Area students have a variety of fresh produce available at lunchtime

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 12:24 pm on Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Carson Cox, 9, a third-grader at Baldwin Heights Elementary School, grabbed some fruit and worked his way through the salad bar during lunch on Friday. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

Fresh Produce at school

Some samples of the fresh produce that is offered at each school:

Greenville Public Schools
Plums, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, apples, bananas, grapefruit, pears, oranges, kiwi and pineapple

Carson City-Crystal Area Schools
Lettuce, green peppers, red peppers, cucumbers, celery, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, oranges, apples and grapes

Belding Area Schools
Apples, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, green onions, celery, squash and corn

Some local schools are taking a step toward healthier lifestyles by offering a variety of fresh produce to students during lunch time.

Because of the nutritional factor of fresh produce, schools have begun to serve many options to students in place of other non-nutritious items.

John Klapko, director of dining services at Belding Areas Schools, said it is important to serve fresh produce because of the nutrients the fruits and vegetables give to the students.

“It is also important to use fresh produce especially with children for education purposes,” Klapko said.
The younger students, he said, can learn the difference between fruits and vegetables and the difference in what they look and taste like.

Kerin Naumann, food and nutrition director at Carson City-Crystal Area Schools, said aside from the vitamins and nutrients in fresh produce, there is an eye appeal because produce typically has more vibrant colors.

Third-graders at Baldwin Heights Elementary School flocked to the cafeteria on Friday and dug into the fruits and vegetables that were available. Pictured in front is Kody Gard, 8, and in back is Charleigh McDonnell, 9. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

“As we all know, people eat with their eyes,” Naumann said. “The more appealing it looks, it’s more likely students will chose the healthier, more attractive looking products.”

Not only are schools encouraging fresh produce in school, but they are teaming up with local farmers and organization to push Michigan-made items.

“H&W (Farms in Belding) is the only local farmer we use at this time,” said Suzanne Brown, Greenville Public Schools food and nutrition director. “They are great at keeping inventory so they can supply us most of the year with their apples.”

Brown said when working with farms, it is important to know how many cases to purchase, the size of the product and more.

“Uniformity also is needed for calculating how much fruit a child is receiving in order to meet federal guidelines,” Brown said.

Klapko said Belding Area Schools serves a number of items from Michigan including apples, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, green onions, celery, squash, corn and more depending on the season.
“We buy and serve as much Michigan products as we can get,” Klapko said.

Currently, Naumann said Carson City-Crystal Area Schools does not do anything with Farm to School relationships, but does work with Gordon Food Service (GFS).

“(GFS) is our distributor and they do a great job with making Michigan-grown products available to schools as much as possible,” Naumann said.

Naumann said the school will have  Michigan Farm-to-School Week in May where they have lists of Michigan-made products along with themes to help create a menu featuring foods grown and/or manufactured in Michigan.

In past years, Greenville Public Schools has received a fresh fruits and vegetables grant through the state at Lincoln Heights Elementary School, which is mostly based on the amount of pupils who receive free or reduced lunches.

“We have been very fortunate,” Brown said.

Pupils at Baldwin Heights Elementary School had a variety of fruits and vegetables to chose from on Friday, including fresh salad and fruits. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

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