The Anna L. Klein School has used a $50,000 fruit and vegetable grant from the state Department of Agriculture for “New Jersey Farm to School Week,” which kicked off on Wednesday. Students were made to feel as if they were on a farm and at lunch time were given a variety of fruits to choose from.
On Wednesday the snack menu included red and green apples, oranges, pears, and bananas. Students’ curiosity was sparked as they entered the cafeteria and passed a tent to welcome them to the fresh fruits. Many finished their lunches quickly and lined up for the chance to eat the fruit.
The grant was given to the school at the end of August. Maschio’s Food Services, Inc., which has been serving the school food for nearly 16 years, and Principal Pedro Garrido worked together to obtain the grant during the summer in order to have it for the new school year.
Parents were sent letters by Garrido notifying them of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program being introduced for 2012-2013 school year. The goal of the grant is to provide students with healthy, nutritious foods, increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, create healthier schools, promote wellness and change children’s diets to impact their future health.
“Your participation will contribute to the success of this project.” – Principal Garrido in letter to parents
“Your participation will contribute to the success of this project,” says the letter.
Parents will also be sent information to their homes along with recipes.
The fruits and vegetables arrive at the school every Tuesday and Friday. They come from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Maschio’s Manager Barbara Feinstein chooses from a list of fruits and vegetables. Feinstein and Area Supervisor Piper McDermott work together to get the students the fruits and veggies.
Students can only get one fruit or vegetable per day so they have to choose wisely. Garrido urges students to try new fruits and vegetables.
“It promotes healthy eating habits where students sample fruits and vegetables that they may not have the opportunity to do at home,” said Garrido. “Just try it.”
Celery was the one vegetable that proved not very popular, but snow peas, carrots, apples, oranges, pears and bananas were also available. Children’s allergies are also taken into consideration.
McDermott said she wants to expand the students’ knowledge of the growth of fruits and vegetables with the help of the science department. Parents will also be part of a program to encourage them to expand providing fruits and vegetables for their children.
The school is looking for a farmer to come to the school and teach children more about the fruits and vegetables they are eating.
Students at Anna L. Klein will also participate in a Walk to School Program on Oct. 16 to promote healthy living.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org