Wellness Success Stories

  • We Need Your Stories

    Creating a community focused on health and well-being depends on sharing ideas and success stories.

    • Events and projects starting as ideas and transforming into successful projects or events should be used as inspiration throughout our community. 
    • Please share big and little successes your school or classroom has had.  
    • Provide as many specifics as you can. 
    • Details should include: What type of event or action took place, what grade levels participated, who developed and coordinated the idea or event and how it was funded.  
    • Please includes lots of pictures and an email for contact.
    • Please submit your wellness success stories to Food & Nutrition at nutrition@dvusd.org.
  • Nutrition Education

    At the start of 2019, DVUSD partnered with Maricopa County (SNAP-Ed) to bring additional nutrition education opportunities to the students in Deer Valley. This resource means that first through third grades can now receive nutrition education (and taste tests) in the classroom. Schools must be over 50% free and reduced in the National School Lunch Program to qualify. Christine Hicks, a dietitian from Maricopa County, provided three first grade classes with the “Eating a Rainbow” lesson. Students learned about the benefits of eating fruits of all colors and they made some tasty “fruit faces”.

    The fourth and fifth grade students at Mirage, Village Meadows, and Park Meadows (schools participating in the Leaders for School Wellness Sub-grant) are coming up on their sixth nutrition education lesson. Most recently, fourth graders received a lesson about added sugars and “sometimes foods”. They worked with serving sizes of a variety of foods to understand just how much sugar is added to the foods they eat. This month, fifth graders are looking at how to read food labels. One goal is for students to understand what %DV (daily value) means when listed on a food label, and another goal is to use the 5/20 rule to see if a food is high or low in a particular nutrient.


  • Food Demonstration

    Executive Chef Cory Oppold from the Atlas Bistro in Scottsdale has been making visits in some of our elementary schools in Deer Valley. Working with second and third graders, Chef Cory, cooks up fun recipes in front of the classes with an interactive demonstration that requires a few student “sous chefs” and a lot of participation from the class. He encourages students to appreciate the foods we have available to us, describing their versatility. And, he tells each class, “I won’t be offended if you don’t like what I make, but it would be great to at least try it” demonstrating just how important it is for young children to be introduced to and encouraged to try new foods.

    Cory Oppold is part of Slow Food Phoenix and the Blue Watermelon Project. This group of chefs, farmers, and community members advocate for nutrition and food education geared toward children, by bringing cooking, tasting, hands-on activities, and fresh, local foods into the classrooms.


  • Leaders in School Wellness

    Deer Valley Unified School District was awarded the Leaders for School Wellness Subgrant (LSW) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition Grant via the Health and Nutrition Division (HNS) of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.

    With this grant, a Wellness Specialist was hired by the Food and Nutrition Department to organize and provide nutrition education in the 4th and 5th grades, help promote healthy eating and physical activity within each school environment, and encourage workplace wellness throughout the district. The LSW subgrant is currently focused on three “pilot” schools within the school district (Village Meadows Elementary, Mirage Elementary, and Park Meadows Elementary). All kinds of wonderful wellness activities are developing across the district. 

    • Nutrition education has started at each grant participating school. The year-long curriculum (8 lessons in total) provides content geared toward making healthy choices every day. Students will receive lessons about MyPlate, the food groups, a balanced diet, nutrients, “sometimes” foods, vegetable subgroups, grain types, food labels, and portions.
    • DVUSD’s first taste test of the school year (Cowboy Caviar) was incredibly successful. The majority of student critics “loved” the new item and they will even see how important their opinions are with the inclusion of this item on the October menu.
    • Athletic equipment for P.E., recess, and/or before and after school programs was provided to each grant participating school.
    • Plant starts (spinach, basil, pepper, and cilantro) are on their way to the school gardens at Copper Creek, Highland Lakes, Village Meadows, and Sandra Day O’Conner.
    • The "Wellness Tab" on the district website is bulking up as various resources and policy assessments are added. In summary.


  • Success Story Archives

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  • Wellness Photo Gallery

  • New Vegetable Taste Tests

    An ongoing effort to encourage the consumption of commonly avoided vegetables continued with more taste tests in some of Deer Valley’s elementary schools. The BBQ Chickpeas, a recipe that includes a light coating of barbecue sauce baked over garbanzo beans, tested in November with over 700 student critics trying and (mostly) enjoying the new recipe. The Cheesy Green Beans, a recipe that combines cheese sauce, spices, and green beans, tested in January with over 500 student critics who predominantly “liked” and “loved” the new recipe. Both recipes are now included in the DVUSD lunch menu rotation.
  • Great Kindness Challenge

    Mirage Elementary participated in the Great Kindness Challenge January 28th through February 1st. Their National Honor Society sponsors this Week of Kindness each year with a goal to create (and celebrate) a school environment that is a kind, supportive, and respectful. This year Mirage added a Kindness Rock Garden to go along with the Kindness Lessons, Kindness Notes, Dress-up Days, and the use of Second Step and Sanford Harmony (social/emotional programs) to help encourage students to build each other up.


  • Seed Starts

    Fall in Arizona brought with it the opportunity to spread vegetable seeds across the district. Seventeen schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) in Deer Valley received a total of 864 seed starts. Red pepper, cilantro, basil, and spinach seeds are being used (or will be used) in school gardens or as part of curriculum related class projects. By design, the addition of these vegetable and herb starts will help to revitalize existing gardens, help build new garden spaces, and provide an opportunity to bring seeds into the individual classrooms… all in an effort to establish connections with, and encourage discussions about, the foods we eat.