District stu­dents learn about nu­tri­tion

District el­e­men­tary schools par­tic­i­pate in pro­gram to in­form stu­dents about healthy eat­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Re­port

CALN >> Eat your greens.

While some kids na­tion­wide do not have the op­por­tu­nity to eat fruits and veg­eta­bles in their homes, Coatesville el­e­men­tary stu­dents are get­ting that chance at school.

Caln El­e­men­tary School stu­dents will get to snack on fresh pro­duce three days a week in their class­rooms this school year be­cause of a fed­eral grant pro­gram called the Fresh Fruit and Veg­etable Pro­gram. Caln joins two other Coatesville el­e­men­tary schools, Reeceville and Rain­bow, in par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Chef Bill Scepan­sky talked to Rain­bow El­e­men­tary School stu­dents dur­ing an assem­bly on Fri­day about fruit, veg­eta­bles and nu­tri­tion. In ad­di­tion to get­ting to sam­ple the food, the pro­gram pro­vides ed­u­ca­tional in­for­ma­tion so stu­dents can learn about what they are eat­ing and why it is good for their health.

“The chil­dren re­ally love it,” Food Ser­vices Su­per­vi­sor Erin Robin­son said. “We do trivia quizzes with them about the sam­ples and they are re­ally learn­ing that they can en­joy veg­eta­bles and fruit and not just pro­cessed foods and tra­di­tional snack foods like chips.”

Fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles are served daily in the school cafe­te­rias. But school district of­fi­cials say get­ting chil­dren to eat them is an­other mat­ter. Ex­perts say fed­eral pro­grams like this help schools cre­ate health­ier en­vi­ron­ments by en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to eat a wider va­ri­ety of healthy foods.

The Fresh Fruit and Veg­etable Pro­gram be­gan in 2002 and was ex­panded na­tion­wide in 2008. Reeceville El­e­men­tary has par­tic­i­pated the last three years, and Rain­bow was added last year. El­e­men­tary schools par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram re­ceive be­tween $50 and $75 per year per stu­dent to pur­chase the sam­ples.

The pro­gram is tar­geted to­ward schools with higher ra­tios of stu­dents el­i­gi­ble for free and re­duced meal prices.

“We know there’s a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween chil­dren’s di­ets and their health,” said Robin­son. “This is a great way to have an im­pact. We have had sev­eral par­ents tell us they were sur­prised at what their chil­dren re­quest at the grocery store. It’s opened a whole new world of fresh fruits and veg­gies for them.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Chef Bill Scepan­sky speaks to Rain­bow El­e­men­tary School stu­dents on Fri­day about fruit, veg­eta­bles and nu­tri­tion.

Rain­bow El­e­men­tary School stu­dent Matthew Smith re­acts to eat­ing broc­coli on Fri­day at the school event. Reeceville El­e­men­tary has par­tic­i­pated in the Fresh Fruit and Veg­etable Pro­gram for the past three years, Rain­bow El­e­men­tary was added in 2015-16, and Caln El­e­men­tary is in its first year in the pro­gram.

Rain­bow El­e­men­tary School stu­dents help them­selves to broc­coli dur­ing the event.

Fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles.

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