By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Alan Smith, a fourth grade student at Cherokee Elementary School, exclaimed, “It’s delicious!” after tasting a piece of cauliflower on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 17. The vegetable was delivered to his classroom as part of the school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
“The whole goal of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is to expose the Cherokee Elementary School students to as many varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables as possible,” said Janette Broda, CES child nutrition director. “We distribute four days a week, to Pre-K through fifth grades, during their snack time.”
The distribution is based on a staggered scale with each grade receiving the snacks twice a week. “It’s based on available funding,” said Broda who related the program received a USDA grant for $29,000 to purchase the snacks which are prepped on distribution days by the school’s nutrition program.
Broda related that Cherokee Elementary was one of 196 elementary schools in the State of North Carolina that received the funding which works out to about $50 per Cherokee Elementary student.
And, the students are responding well to the program. “I remember one time we had mangos, and they gave us an information paper on mangos,” said Jazz Robertson, a fourth grader in Ms. Hall’s class. “It was pretty cool.”
During distribution days, Broda is joined by Katie Rainwater and Allison Villa from Food Corps. “They get into the classrooms and provide education centered around the snack distributed that day and get the kids excited about eating the produce and that really encourages the participation,” Broda noted.
Rainwater commented, “We’ve had so much support from the teachers. They actually get really excited when we bring the vegetables, and we’ve had a lot of teachers who are very committed to trying it with their students so they are creating an environment where it is a positive thing to try new things.”
Broda said the efforts in the classroom are extended into the cafeteria. “This program also encourages students to try new foods and then come into the cafeteria where our efforts are to offer the same fruits and vegetables on the line. We want to encourage that participation and that exposure in the cafeteria as well so they can make the connection.”