Fresh Foods Initiative brings local veggies into MES
Students at Marlinton Elementary School are enjoying new and unique fruits and vegetables thanks to a Fresh Fruits and Veggies Grant from the USDA.
Cheri Hall, Coordinator of Food Services for Pocahontas County, said the grant is a way to ensure students are eating healthy foods and learning about locally grown foods.
ﾓThe WV Office of Child Nutrition suggests that you use local foods because it also supports the local economy,ﾔ Halls aid. ﾓYou also get less preservatives, less additives, less packaging and the kids become familiar with a more fresh way of eating.ﾔ
To make the program more interesting, Hall said she is trying to find less common fruits and vegetables to grab the studentsﾒ attention.
ﾓWeﾒre trying to introduce different foods,ﾔ she said. ﾓWe know theyﾒll eat carrots and celery, but we really want to introduce some neat and interesting things.ﾔ
The program has become a collaboration between the cooks, AmeriCorps Adrienne Juergens and local farmer Joe Heathcock.
ﾓOur AmeriCorps is working with farmer Joe to teach CSOs (Content Standards and Objectives) in nutrition, wellness and science,ﾔ Hall said. ﾓI want to really reinforce that our cooks work really hard with this program. Itﾒs hard for them to have to juggle several programs at once with everything they have to pack into their day, so I really have to give them credit for working hard and being very enthusiastic about local foods.ﾔ
Since the program began in late October, the students have sampled Swiss neon chard and Chioggia beets.
The students have been very receptive to the new veggies, even if their taste buds arenﾒt.
ﾓThey are very positive for the most part,ﾔ Hall said. ﾓThey were excited that it was grown down the street from them instead of in California. We told them it takes the average person 12 times of trying something new before they have acquired a taste for it, so if they tried it and didnﾒt like it, it was okay. We just want them to try it.ﾔ
Hallﾒs plans go beyond adding new fruits and veggies to the school menu. She said she and Juergens hope to start a student garden and green house this spring.
ﾓWe would like to implement a school garden and do more science around it, as we grow things that the kids want to eat and taste,ﾔ she said.