After what seems like hours in the classroom, the bell rings and students are off to lunch. Kids eagerly wait in line, and soon head to a lunch table with their friends. Their plates are identical – pizza, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. While healthier options were available, they remain untouched. This is where Smarter Bites steps in.
Smarter Bites is a non-profit program that educates kids about the importance of a nutritious diet and daily physical activity. Founded on the premise of “kids educating kids,” the program is comprised of leaders who extend from schools to camps. These leaders give interactive presentations and become role models for their recipients. Smarter Bites is approved by Dallas as an official non-profit and has recently received support from the Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
President and founder of Smarter Bites, junior Radhe Melwani, saw a problem with youth’s lack of awareness regarding their health. As a student and an athlete, she recognized the correlation between a healthy lifestyle and reaching one’s full potential.
“As the founder and president of Smarter Bites, my role is to propagate our cause of educating our community about the importance of healthy eating and daily physical activity, enthuse other high school students to join and spread the word, and lead the board,” Radhe said.
The process of creating the organization started with Radhe speaking to the North Texas Food Bank, accountants, lawyers, coaches, and many others. Radhe then began to evaluate what information would be most relevant and engaging to the kids. After the first few presentations, Radhe went to Dallas City Hall in downtown to register as a non-profit, with the main intent of raising awareness as opposed to money. At the start of the current school year, Radhe met with Jack Oros, Dean of Students, and Laura Ross, Head of Upper School, to discuss ideas about how Smarter Bites could continue at Greenhill after she graduates. Soon after, she sent out an application for Upper School students to be on the board and was overwhelmed by the positive response from her peers.
What started as a small idea is now being demonstrated on a large scale, as presentations have been given to many students throughout the Dallas community. Radhe explains that while she initially was not expecting the response she received, she could not feel more inspired now.
“One of my many favorite memories is when I revisited a camp I presented to,” said Radhe. “The students remembered me and were running up telling me how they changed an aspect of their diet. A simple aspect of adding a vegetable to their meal and they’re working on adding fruit. To you and I, it may have been a small change, but it is living proof that even a small change is making a difference.”
Director of Service Learning and Community Service Sally Rosenberg helped Radhe develop Smarter Bites and now reaches out to the greater community to inform other schools about this opportunity for their students. Ms. Rosenberg believes that the approach taken to educate kids is the best part of the organization.
“[The strength of Smarter Bites is] the mentoring by students closer to the age they present to rather than hearing about nutrition from adults. The information imparted is in a fun, informative and “easy to digest” manner!” Ms. Rosenberg said.
Junior Victoria Shiau is one of the Directors of Events of Smarter Bites and she is responsible for organizing presentations at locations throughout DFW.
“The main goal of Smarter Bites is to inspire kids, especially younger ones, to eat healthily, exercise regularly and have a healthier lifestyle. We aim to do this by being present in a variety of places throughout our community – elementary schools, churches, clubs – and engaging the people there in an interactive presentation,” Victoria said.
Looking towards the future, Radhe plans to continue to reach out to as many other students as possible, both during the school year and during the summer. The presentations won’t just stay within the confines of classrooms, as the addition of new camps and events at local parks and libraries is a priority going forward.
“I would like Smarter Bites to spread its scope and join other organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and enlist representatives from other schools and organizations to help spread the word and maximize awareness of our cause,” Radhe said.