Essential Pittsburgh
1:25 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

A Conversation on Food and Physical Education for Allegheny County Students

(L-R) Curtistine Walker and Erika Lavelle are two of the many workers trying to help students in Allegheny County become fit and active.
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 FM WESA

The major components of living a healthy life are learning about and eating healthy food and the importance of physical fitness. 

With 54 schools in the Pittsburgh Public School System and nearly 26 thousand students, getting them fed requires planning and adherence to government guidelines for nutrition.

In some cases, the food for Pittsburgh public schools is prepared offsite, at a facility in the South Side. 

Curtistine Walker, director of food service for Pittsburgh Public Schools explained “the only schools that receive meals from the satellite site, or I guess you could call it our plant, are those schools that don’t have full service kitchens and right now, there’s probably about 20 that don’t.”

But the meals prepared in the South Side are no different from the meals prepared in the schools, said Walker.

“It’s not meals that are prepared from scratch in either situation. Basically it is food that comes to us prepared and basically that is best for safety reasons and consistency.”

According to Dr. Karen Hacker, Allegheny County’s Health Department Director, 30% of students in Allegheny County are obese or overweight.

That is a statistic Erika Lavelle a Physical Education teacher at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8 wants to see changed.

“You do not want to see any obese kids. You want to try to teach lifelong activities and try to be healthy. That’s a high statistic to me, especially since Phys. Ed. seems to be getting cut. Back in the day, there used to be more Phys. Ed. for these kids and now it’s maybe twice a week.”

This is not the only change that Lavelle has seen in her time as a student and teacher in Allegheny County. “When I was a kid it was all about the dodge ball and red rover and those games back in the day," said Lavelle  "Then it’s gone to sports and now its starting to become very fitness and individualized.”