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Education Reporter

At Wisconsin High School, Students Behave As They Eat 
APPLETON, WI - The Central Alternative High School in Appleton instituted a new healthy lunch program in 1997, administered by a private group called Natural Ovens. Suddenly, the revolving discipline plans, metal detectors, security officers, and all the other tactics schools currently use to deal with rowdy students were no longer needed.

Could the answer to public schools' discipline woes really lie in what students eat? According to a newsletter called Pure Facts, eliminating behavior problems was as simple for Central Alternative's principal LuAnn Coenen as eliminating junk food. School lunch menus changed drastically. All the soda and junk food vending machines were removed. Fast-food hamburgers, fries, and burritos were tossed out, and replaced with healthy alternatives including fresh salads, meats, whole grain breads, and fruits.

The results have been impressive. Pure Facts reports that "grades are up" at the high school, "truancy is no longer a problem, arguments are rare, and teachers are able to spend their time teaching."

Principal Coenen has been turning in stellar annual reports to the state of Wisconsin since the program began. The number of drop-outs and expulsions, as well as the number of students using drugs, carrying weapons, and committing suicide, is zero.

The improvement in student behavior is obvious to all. Teachers report fewer daily discipline issues and classroom disruptions. One teacher from a nearby middle school, which also adopted the program, even decided to teach for another year rather than retire, because "teaching more well-behaved students is so much fun."

Where did this novel food concept come from? In 1976, a non-profit organization called the Feingold Association began creating awareness for the work of Dr. Ben F. Feingold, a pediatrician and allergist. Feingold discovered a relationship between certain synthetic additives in foods and behavior, learning, and health problems in children. The Feingold program is based on a diet that eliminates synthetic food colors, synthetic flavors and additives such as MSG, and the preservatives BHA, BHT, and TBHQ.

A main goal of the Feingold Association is to create awareness of these discoveries in the hope that diet alternatives can be found to treat behavior problems in children instead of administering dangerous drugs such as Ritalin.

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