Guest post: The NO Squad

Mrs Q here: I’m running late with my CSA post because my son is sick. Instead I’d like to share a guest blog I found very interesting and inspiring.

The NO Squad – It Really Does Take A Village

By Dr. Jane Pentz

Who are these people wearing “No” t-shirts and handing out bookmarks?

Onlookers have tried to guess the meaning of NO, but no one has even come close to the true meaning. We’ve had responses from no smoking, no taxes, and even New Orleans.  But NO has a far different meaning and the t-shirts are aimed at sending a powerful message.

NO is the title of our young adult novel that deals with the timeliest of issues – increased rates of obesity in children who eat school lunches.

Doug Dwyer and I, the authors of NO, met in a retirement community of not-so retired individuals several years ago. We have backgrounds in fitness, nutrition and education and we share a deep rooted passion for informing parents, educators and anyone who will listen about the alarming status of our nation’s school lunch program.

I entered the nutrition field many years ago for personal reasons.  My oldest daughter, now a grandmother, was very sensitive to food allergies and I went back to school to educate myself.  I received my PH.D fromTuftsUniversityand created my own continuing education company.  I taught thousands of adults across the country – parents, educators, health professionals and coaches made up the majority of my classes.  They would inevitably bring up the topic of school lunches.  My co-author, Doug Dwyer, is a career educator who has worked as both a teacher and administrator and he shares my passion for working to bring about change in school lunches. Doug also has a daughter with food allergies and he and his wife have worked for years helping her.

We discussed possible solutions with friends, family and again anyone who would listen.  What if teenagers everywhere put their brains together to organize their own revolution? Imagine if kids across the nation all stood up at once and just said “NO” to unhealthy school lunches and vending machine snack food? They might just have the power to improve the quality of school lunches.

Thus began the birth of our first novel – NO: Book 1 of Eighth Day Series. It all starts on a normal Friday atBlalockMiddle SchoolinTennessee. When the bell rings for lunch, the entire eighth grade class comes together in a one-word protest of the food that is about to be served to them in the cafeteria. And that one word, emblazoned on white paper that each student holds up, is a simple and bold “NO”. We soon find out that this same plan has been launched in middle schools across the country. As the story unfolds four seventh and eighth grade teens join forces with 8th Day, an underground group of professors, students, and health professionals committed to exposing the corporate greed and government deception that is resulting in the high-fat, high-sugar diets that are leading them and their classmates on a sure road to life-shortening diseases like diabetes.

These 4 kids living in different parts of the country combine their talents toward a nationwide boycott, quickly transforming themselves into trained “agents” on a mission to save kids who eat school lunches. Can the kids overcome food foes who are more interested in lining their pockets than promoting health?

No was published on March 15th (Also available on Amazon).  We were pleased to learn that adults are also enjoying this fast-paced, fact-packed, and empowering book.

Our first outing with NO t-shirts came several days later and was so tremendously successful in getting the message out that we enlisted others to join us – and so began the NO Squad.  The NO Squad can be seen travelling throughout parts of FL and their goal is to spread the message throughout the country.

You can join our effort by purchasing a copy of NO and a NO t-shirt at www.bffkids.org.  We will send you six bookmarks with the purchase of every NO Book and/or NO t-shirt.  Simply put that you heard about us (in the comments section) through Mrs. Q’s blog.

You can also help our effort by joining our discussion group (Children’s Nutrition and Fitness Advocates) on LinkedIn.  Send me an email at pentzj(AT)comcast(DOT)net and I will send you an invitation to join the group.

You can also help us by letting us know of children’s organizations, local books stores, school libraries or public libraries in your area that might be interested in having NO on their book shelves.

Jane Pentz and Doug Dwyer

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4 Responses to Guest post: The NO Squad

  1. Doug Dwyer May 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Among all the good work done by so many, our emphasis is on the kids themselves. We can want the best for them, but they will need to want it themselves. The book is designed to entertain, but more importantly it should teach kids that the system (school lunches, food companies etc.) does have their best interest in mind. With that in mind, we hope to empower the kids to stand up and demand what they deserve-decent health and a future.

  2. Doug Dwyer May 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Oops I meant “does not” have their best interest in mind. Can’t trust an English teacher to proofread.

  3. Dr Jack Lapolla May 15, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Congratulations to Fed Up With Lunch for highlighting NO. Both address the vitally important issue of childhood obesity, but from different, though complimentary approaches. NO tries to show how students can influence their own lives through direct action. An educator of 48 years, now retired, I am keenly aware of the power of giving students the skills and attitudes necessary to make informed decisions, especially about their future and that of our country.

    Adults should encourage middle-school agers to read this book. The narrative flows smoothly, and the message is clear: be aware and make wise food choices. But, a book with only nutritional advice is unlikely to keep their interest. NO is a lively mystery that will keep youngsters turning pages.

  4. Colleen Heise May 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I love this book! I love it because it has a very important message and my son loved it because it has adventure and is fun to read. I read this book to my 7 year old son and I expect that as he becomes a better reader, he will read it again by his self.
    As a mother, I believe that it is very important that we teach our children about healthy foods and about why it is important to eat healthy and to make smart food choices. I believe that teaching children about eating healthy is a gift, one that I am grateful that my parents gave to me. I struggle with this issue constantly because my husband and I are not the only influences on our children. My children are constantly being exposed to food through their friends, schools, camps, afterschool programs, etc… One of the most important messages in this book is that children themselves need to speak up for good, healthy foods. If children make smart food choices, not only will they be healthier, but those that are providing food for them will start making healthier choices.
    This book helps give kids the courage to ask for healthy food and is a reinforcement about why it is important to eat healthy – and at the same time is entertaining! I definitely recommend this book for elementary school and middle school aged kids.

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