Middle schoolers learn “Real Food Rules”

Students sing while standing on risers as a man videotapes with his phone and two people direct them

Students in sixth grade at Liberty Middle School spent two Fridays in the fall learning — and singing — about food.

STEAM Fund (Siegel Trust Enriching Arts & Music) at CFOS (Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan) brought its Real Food Song Program to LMS on Oct.13 and 24.

There, the students learned about where food comes from and how it is delivered, with the goal of helping create a generational change in the choices they make.

“We were happy to welcome the Real Food Song Program to Liberty Middle School,” Principal Heather Cheh said. “With Sullivan County being near the bottom in statewide health rankings, we want to do our part to help change that statistic for the positive.”

A student in the front row raises her hands as two adults speak at the front of the classroom

Facilitated through the STEAM fund at CFOS, the program is supported educationally in collaboration with the not-for-profit, A Single Bite, whose mission is to feed —  and educate — Sullivan County residents with real, local food.

“It was great to witness the excitement and enthusiasm the LMS students exhibited,” STEAM Founder Gary Siegel said..  “As part of STEAM’s Healthy Habits Initiative, the Real Food Song Program is one of many local programs designed to improve the health of the children, teens and adults in our schools and communities, providing them with tools to make healthier choices while having fun.”

Students stand on risers with chairs behind them and singThe songwriting program presents the students with the opportunity to ponder questions such as “What does food mean to you?  Where does it come from?  What does it do?  What are your favorites … are they real?  How does food make you feel?”

“The experience was so cool. I was grateful to be able to do that,” student Madison Allen said. “I learned the importance of eating real food.”

A man with his right pointer finger up and a woman holding her right palm out direct students as they singIn the interactive songwriting workshops, the singer-songwriter teaching artists, Scott Bierko and Beth Bierko, introduced the concepts of real vs. processed food to the students and taught about songwriting and musical concepts such as rhythm and form. Under the guidance of Bierkos, the students collectively wrote their own lyrics to the song “Real Food Rules” and then recorded their own version.

“I think that real food is good and healthy,” student Atticus Macnimara said. As for the song? “The best part is the chorus.”

A video was created with the participating students, shared in recent assemblies at LMS and can be seen below: