Elementary school students were given an incentive this week to eat healthy lunches to promote good eating habits.
The Fruit and Vegetable Challenge, held by the Newton County School System (NCSS) School Nutrition Program (SNP) May 12-16, asked elementary classes to count and record the number of fruits and vegetables students ate at lunch each day. At the end of the week, one class in each elementary school with the highest average of eaten produce won.
Brittany Bingeman, SNP wellness coordinator, said the results will be tallied and announced next week. The Newton County Community Partnership, a division of the Georgia Family Connections Partnership, awarded the SNP a grant to conduct the challenge. The grant was funded by the Blank family Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Teachers were asked to identify fruits and vegetables offered on the school’s lunch menu each day and to share fun facts and nutritional information with their students. Teachers kept a tally on a classroom challenge chart to be calculated by the SNP at the end of the week.
“Hopefully, through educating students about the healthfulness of fruits and vegetables, students will be encouraged to consume more of the nutritious foods,” stated an NCSS press release.
According to the MyPlate food guidance system, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends Americans fill half of their plate with produce. The USDA also recommends diets include a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables in order to obtain the range of nutrients present in each food. For example, red and orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, are high in vitamin A, which is needed for vision and a strong immune system. Each week, students are offered oranges and baby carrots, beans and peas – including black eye peas and pinto beans – and dark green vegetables, such as broccoli and romaine lettuce salads. Students in winning classes will receive a prize pack with healthy eating promotional items, such as a beaded “fruit and vegetable tracker” bracelet.
The teacher of each winning class will be awarded gift certificates to purchase school supplies and a healthy eating bulletin board kit. For more information on the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge, contact Brittany Bingeman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-784-4966.