Newton County Elementary Students Take the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge

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Some kids in Newton County chowing down on healthy snacks

Newton County School System (NCSS) elementary students were given an incentive to eat healthy lunches to promote good eating habits. They participated in the School Nutrition Program’s Fruit and Vegetable Challenge the week of May 12-16. Throughout the week, elementary classes counted and recorded the number of fruits and vegetables students ate at lunch each day. At the end of the week, the class in each elementary school with the highest average of fruits and vegetables eaten won the challenge.

As part of the challenge, teachers identified fruits and vegetables offered on the school lunch menu each day and to share fun facts and nutrition information about fruits and vegetables with their students. Hopefully through educating students about the healthfulness of fruits and vegetables, students will be encouraged to consume more of these nutritious foods. 

Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients. They contain vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and K; minerals including potassium and magnesium; dietary fiber; and special compounds called phytonutrients or “plant nutrients,” which may have added health benefits and protect against certain diseases. Therefore, according to the MyPlate food guidance system, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that Americans fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables.

“Hopefully, through educating students about the healthfulness of fruits and vegetables, students will be encouraged to consume more of the nutritious foods,” said Brittany Bingeman, School Nutrition Program wellness coordinator.

The USDA recommends that Americans include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in their diet in order to obtain the array of nutrients present within these foods. For example, red/orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots are high in vitamin A, which is needed for vision and a strong immune system.  Students in Newton County Schools can find a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables on school lunch and breakfast menus. Each week, students are offered red/orange vegetables and fruits such as oranges and baby carrots, beans and peas such as black eye peas and pinto beans, and dark green vegetables including broccoli and romaine lettuce salads. 

After lunch each day, teachers asked students to report the number of fruits and vegetables they ate at lunch. The class kept a running tally on a classroom challenge chart. At the end of the week, the School Nutrition Program calculated the average number of fruits and vegetables each class ate during the week. Students in the winning class received a prize pack with healthy eating promotional items, which included a beaded fruit and vegetable tracker bracelet. The teacher of the winning class received gift certificates to purchase school supplies and a healthy eating bulletin board kit.

The School Nutrition Program received a grant from the Newton County Community Partnership, the local Georgia Family Connection Collaborative, to conduct the challenge. The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation funded the grant.

Laura Bertram
Newton County Community Partnership Executive Director

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)

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