Students try out ‘healthy snacks’

Lathrop Street students try out new vegetables and fruits every Thursday as part of the ‘Healthy Snack’ program, funded by proceeds raised at the annual Montrose Chocolate & Wine Festival.

Lathrop Street students try out new vegetables and fruits every Thursday as part of the ‘Healthy Snack’ program, funded by proceeds raised at the annual Montrose Chocolate & Wine Festival.

BY PAT FARNELLI and STACI WILSON

At the start of the school year, students at Lathrop Street Elementary have been trying out some new foods every Thursday.

The “Healthy Snack” program is bringing kids and vegetables together. Each week, classrooms receive a tray of either vegetables or fruits for the students to sample.

The program is sponsored by the Chocolate and Wine Festival. Festival organizer Tom Follert said, “After the 2012 festival, the EMHS Building Project had received almost all of the funding it needed, so the Chocolate and Wine Festival Committee wanted to find another way that we could make a health minded impact in the community.”

After discussing several ideas, the committee settled on the ‘Healthy Snack’ – modeled after a grant program that had been in place in the school several years ago.

“Most kids have a natural aversion to anything green or orange when it is put on their plate at dinner by Mom and Dad, but when surrounded by their friends, kids are much more courageous,” Follert said.

And teachers report their students love the weekly offerings.

Teacher Dave Wood stated in a letter of support for the program: “Many of my students did not know what kiwi was and they loved it after they tried it and then they said, ‘I want my mom to buy these!’ This creates healthy eating habits outside of the school as well! Just imagine, when they are shopping with their family and see the fruits and vegetables, and say they want those instead of unhealthy items!”

Each week, Ray’s Shursave Market in Montrose, readies the trays for delivery to the school.

Store manager Jim Snell said, “It’s one local guy supporting another guy’s project, as far as I’m concerned. Our owner, Ray Petty is all about being locally owned and operated and being involved in the community. I have a second grade son who raves about this program, and he asks his mom to get something he tried at “Healthy Snacks.”

Snell said his son’s favorite new item was the star fruit. Students have also tried sugar snap peas, several varieties of melons, and bok choi.

Ray’s produce manager Faye Cole said, “We try to introduce new or uncommon foods that I’m sure kids wouldn’t eat every day, like star fruit, kiwi, baby bok choi, cabbage, peppers, cucumbers, leaf lettuces.”

Included with the classroom trays are cards with the nutrition and health benefits for each item.

“We let them know what’s in there,” Cole said. “We do have kids shopping with their parents and they might make some choices they would not have made before.”

The Chocolate and Wine Festival Committee has voted to continue its support of the Healthy Snack program with proceeds raised at the 2014 event.

Although currently only offered in the Lathrop Street school, Follert said he hopes to bring the program to the Choconut Valley Elementary students in the future.