Vista High Students Have An Eye For Nutrition

May 07th, 2019

When the call went out looking for classes interested in working with WaveCrest Cafe to integrate class skills and knowledge with learning about how we operate a school nutrition program, Vista High School photography teacher Laura Olden stepped forward. We worked with her two classes to develop a client-based project that gave students parameters for creating social media posts, and let them utilize their skills and creativity to complete the assignment. 

The result: we’ve got lots and lots of Instagram-ready stories to share in the month of May 2019, students gained insight about school nutrition, and connections between students and staff were forged.

The project began with taste tests for each of the two classes. The morning class sampled two breakfast items new to the spring menu, while the afternoon class tried two new lunch entrees. As with many of these projects, we wanted students to have an understanding of what goes into designing a menu, an entree, and the ways that our food is presented. We covered everything from sourcing food, to how it’s prepared, to the dedication of our team and how they serve students daily. We even informed the students that food grown in their school’s organic garden was purchased by WaveCrest Cafe and served across the district. 



From there, we asked students to create images, GIFs and/or videos that highlight any or all of three areas: Product, Place, and People. The aspects generally covered in those areas are:

Product: the food itself. Where it comes from, how it’s prepared, etc.
Place: the cafeteria surroundings and the social aspect of eating.
People: students, staff, teachers, and those who make meal times unique.

Students, working in teams, began to develop concepts for their projects, with many immediately having ideas of their direction. Several students asked if they could access the school’s kitchen and speak to staff, and it became apparent that many students have formed bonds with the cafeteria staff already, as they mentioned people by name and spoke of how nice the team is to them.

Students Ryan Martinez & Jose Canales created this inside look at WaveCrest Cafe

Says Mrs. Olden about the assignment for her classes, “Working as teams, they didn’t want to let their team down, so I think that was good. And they also had to think quickly – they really had to come up with an idea, shoot it the next day, and make up edits the following class. Because there was a real client and they were working as a team, it had a better turn in rate.”

Senior Mason Manuto commented on the difference of this assignment having  client. “It was more specific than a lot of the projects are. A lot of the projects are based around a compositional technique, whereas this one had specific guidelines.” Still, students had a good deal of latitude in how they chose to communicate the themes and the techniques they applied. Mason’s classmate, fellow senior Rey Cruz, has this to say: “I really liked it – I had a lot of fun with it. I was on my own to do whatever I wanted, and like, for some reason the first thing that came to my head was a food meme. I thought it would apply to what you were looking for.”

The teams utilized myriad techniques in their work, from slow motion photography capturing granola falling into a cup of yogurt and berries, to a documentary video, to animated GIFs, and a series of whats to convey visiting the cafeteria, including a smiling WaveCrest Cafe staff member.

Students also gained a sense of the thought and care put into the food they are served each day. Said Rey, ” I never knew it was fresh, I just thought it was pre-packaged or something, but for it to be made every day like that is pretty dope. I feel like a lot of the students think it’s just ‘school food,’ like, it’s not that good or whatever. But seeing it from your perspective and how you carefully and meticulously find everything and put it together for us students, I thought that was really, really dope.”

Mrs. Olden echoes that insight. “It was interesting to learn about having food grown by the agriculture department that feeds students on our campus. And the kids knew some of the people behind the scenes [in the cafeteria].” Some of the kids actually went and photographed in the kitchen and said, ‘oh my good ness, they’re so nice!’ They got to have a more personal connection wit the people who make the food on campus. That was a nice experience for them.”

Because of the variety of things students are learning, and the ever-changing menus and sourcing of WaveCrest Cafe, the project seemed to be something that can happen regularly with the classes, and also change up over time. Mrs. Olden agreed. “I think that would be fun to revisit it. It’s food, so it’s kind of fun, and working in teams they came up with some pretty creative ideas. I think there was good application of, ‘we have to think up images, think about the actual output and how they’re going to be viewed, and the final presentation of the images.’ A lot of times we’re just viewing it on the screen, but having to think about the actual application was an important thing. I’d like to do it again.”

Subscribe to the WaveCrest Cafe Instagram for full stories from these and other talented VUSD students: @wavecrest_cafe