Students taste test veggies


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By AMANDA TONOLI

atonoli@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A $228,000 United States Department of Agriculture fruit and vegetable grant allows Youngstown City Schools students to try new vegetables in school.

The snack program, said Sue Paris, food service director, is granted to lower income schools to introduce new and different vegetables to students within the district’s nine elementary schools.

“It introduces them to things they would probably never get at home,” Paris explained. “It encourages them to try new snacks in a different way. The whole idea is to introduce them to new things so they try new things at home.”

Students try new vegetables Wednesdays and new fruits Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It’s a really exciting program,” said Tascin Brooks, food service coordinator. “What it offers kids is just the advantage of finding something new they would never try.”

Second-graders tried snow peas Wednesday afternoon and had a variety of reactions to this new food.

Some made cringe-worthy faces while others asked for more.

“It tastes like Chinese [food],” said second-grader Yandel Abel Caraballo Garcia.

Second-grade teacher Adrienne Fritz said she enjoys seeing students try new things.

“I think it’s a great experience for our kids to try different fruits and vegetables they might not have experienced otherwise,” she said.

Introducing students to new foods is an accomplishment to Brooks.

“It’s like a goal and I’ve hit that goal,” she said.

“Being here in Youngstown we have the opportunity and it’s fulfilling to know we have the chance to offer kids nutrition through different things. We hope to continue.”

Some other types of foods the schools offer students include starfruit, papaya, mango and more.

All the food comes fresh, washed and ready to eat in packages.

Sometimes food service workers cut the foods into spirals or shapes to make them more appealing to students.

Through a number of programs Youngstown City Schools offers students breakfast, lunch, a snack, supper and an evening snack throughout their days.

In addition, students and staff throughout the district will participate in the Great Lakes Apple Crunch today to celebrate National Farm to School Month.

About 11:50 a.m. today students from Youngstown State University will taste test different apple varieties at East High School. District high school students will get their apples during lunch and the fruit will be distributed to elementary school students about 2 p.m. as an afternoon snack.

Apples – all locally grown – were delivered earlier this week to the district’s schools.

The apples for the crunch came from Huffman Fruit Farm in Salem. The farm grows 31 apple varieties, 29 varieties of peaches, pears, plums and berries as well as many vegetables.

Last October 2017, more than 1.5 million students, teachers and supporters in Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan participated in the Great Lakes Apple Crunch and organizers want to exceed that number this year.

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