This January, Gananda Central School District (GSCD) joined more than 1,000 teachers and school administrators across New York State and took the 10-day PlantPure Jumpstart Challenge to experience the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. Over one-third of Gananda’s teachers and administrators participated in the challenge.
A Rochester elementary school teacher, Doug Schmidt, inspired the challenge. Suffering a near fatal heart attack at the age of 49 and a second heart scare a year later forced Schmidt to make a change. Gradually he began to follow a plant-based, whole food diet and within three years, he lost 60 pounds and no longer required medication.
The PlantPure Jumpstart Challenge is a fun and easy way to experience the health benefits of a plant-based diet. According to the PlantPure Nation website, the diet consists of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices and excludes all animal and dairy products. The challenge positively impacted many Gananda teachers and administrators across all three schools.
“The 10-day challenge has changed my eating habits and has me making smarter choices,” said Rachel McDonald, middle school reading specialist. “Although difficult in the beginning, the support from my co-workers through group text messages, Facebook groups and recipe sharing has made the challenge not only fun, but held me more accountable. I plan on maintaining this way of eating and am so grateful I was introduced to this diet through work!” McDonald noted.
Many at Gananda have experienced significant benefits both mentally and physically. “I have lost 16 pounds since being introduced to this challenge,” said Robert Caulkins, Assistant Principal. “I have tried to remind myself to ‘eat to live not live to eat,’ and have enjoyed shopping in areas of Wegmans I didn’t know existed and trying new recipes,” noted Caulkins.
When asked about the challenge, 92 percent of participants saw health benefits. Some noted that they craved more fruits, vegetables and water; others slept better and had more energy; and many lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure. With 64 percent of participants continuing on with the challenge and 90 percent willing to compete in the challenge again, the PlantPure Jumpstart Challenge is an overall rewarding and successful initiative for Gananda.