Education Nation: Fruity Lunches

Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 8:30am

Will healthy snacks help break bad habits?

From leafy greens, to plums and even clementines, some Illinois children will have new options for snacking at school this fall.

Eldorado Elementary got a grant this year for the USDA's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

It gives the school money to stock up on a variety of produce for every child to try.

"We couldn't have ever bought fresh fruits and vegetables on the scale of what we can now for all these kids," says food coordinator Brenda Smith.

Smith's worked in the schools for almost two decades, and she's seen eating habits go from bad to worse.

"Fast food has come in and a lot of the kids now expect fast food. That's what they want. They call that a meal," she says.

Smith hopes with a nearly $27,000 grant from the government, things will change.

It's a sentiment teachers share.

"A lot of them don't have a chance to try fruits and vegetables, so maybe they'll find something they really like," says teacher Sally Dubble.

Kids will be able to grab the snacks twice a week as they're leaving PE class, taking those fruits and veggies right to their desk.

Countless varieties of produce are allowed by the grant.

The only requirement is that the snacks can't be served at lunchtime.

"Healthier kids learn better, and kids that aren't hungry learn better," says Principal John Fry.

Fry said the goal is to provide students with fresh options to hold them over between meals.

"Hopefully, an extra snack will get them through mid-morning," he says.

Smith is excited that kids will finally get a chance to try foods they've been learning about in the classroom.

"The teachers teach it but you know it's kind of our job to bring these kids to it," she says.

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