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Vista students pile on healthy lunches

Wednesday, March 27, 2013740 views

Who says lunchtime isn’t educational? It certainly was for students at Vista Elementary School recently.

Granite District Food Services brought its “A to Z Salad Bar” lunch program to Vista on March 13. Students got to enjoy a huge variety of fruits and vegetables with names beginning with every letter of the alphabet, some of them familiar to the students and some completely new. The colorful spread, along with fun signage and balloons shaped like fruits and vegetables, was designed to make healthy food appealing to them, and get them try something new.

“At that age it can be a challenge,” District Food Services Representative Amy O’Grady said. “Our goal is to capture those most resistant to fruits and vegetables.”

Regular school lunches do include fruits and veggies already—students are required to have at least half a cup of either one every day, as per National School Lunch Program regulations. The “A to Z Salad Bar” is an extra treat with more extensive choices.

“It’s delightful because the kids are exposed to not only the alphabet, but fruits and vegetables that they never would have,” Vista’s assistant principal Mary Beth Schmidt said. And because of the alphabet theme, “The little children can relate to it as well as the older ones.”

Among the familiar strawberries and bananas were such things as asparagus, edamame, jicama and “ugly fruit.”

The salad bar is so extensive in fact, that it takes up a full quarter of an elementary school’s lunchroom space, O’Grady said. Although good for an occasional visit, it’s not really practical for everyday use.

However, the students seem to care very little about its impracticality, she said.

“Across the board it’s ‘Can we do this every day?’” O’Grady said.

Food Services is about food on the surface, but underneath that it is as much about education as any other aspect of the school system, O’Grady said.

“We really want to reach kids on the level of healthy lifestyles,” she said.

If students find one new thing they like and convince their parents to buy it at the grocery store, that would be considered a win for the program, she said.

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