About 200 transportation staff members at San Antonio ISD learned about the advantages of healthy eating and living during an event that organizers say also benefits behind the wheel safety and employee retention.
The school district partnered with its new insurance provider, Aetna, to host the event on Jan. 24 and 25.
School bus drivers, assistants, vehicle maintenance employees and office staff browsed the San Antonio Foodbank's "Mobile Mercado," one part grocery story and the other part demonstration kitchen. Nathan Graf, the district's executive director of transportation, said professional chefs and nutritionists showed employees how to make tasty and healthy meals with fresh ingredients found on the truck, which included locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Employees also received plenty of free samples.
Meanwhile, local dieticians offered educational sessions to help employees establish wellness goals, manage chronic diseases and food allergies, and address vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Employees also took part in Zumba classes and tried out a massage chair to relieve stress.
Graf said the Healthy Initiative Program started last May to introduce healthier habits and demonstrate how they can not only improve employee health but also better prepare CDL drivers for their annual Department of Transportation medical exams.
"(W)e realized that employees who had a healthier lifestyle had more positive attendance and were more able to meet all CDL requirements than others," added Linda Ann Castillo, the executive secretary of transportation and program coordinator.
Graf also said the program is a good recruitment and retention tool, as he was unaware of similar offerings by other local school districts.