POMEROY — A fresh fruit and vegetable grant of $43,800 awarded to the Meigs Elementary School means that students there will be offered a daily snack this year in addition to their breakfast and lunch.
Getting the grant means that children, many coming from homes where food money at times is insufficient, will be offered a snack during the day.
“This gives us another opportunity to nourish the largely impoverished students in our district,” said Chrissy Musser, food service supervisor. “It also gives us a chance to introduce foods that a child may not otherwise see at home, such as kiwi, pomegranate or sweet potatoes.”
The snack offering is in addition to daily breakfasts which are offered to all Meigs Local students at no charge, and the luncheon program which this year is undergoing change in order to comply with federal nutritional guidelines. Musser said that the majority of the changes involve the consumption of fruits and/or vegetable.
She said Meigs Local is utilizing an “Offer vs. Serve” lunch in which students can choose any three of five lunch components offered.
“In the past, if the student didn’t want to take a fruit or a vegetable, they were not forced to,” Musser added, “but under the new regulations every student must have a fruit or a vegetable serving on their tray.”
She also said there are weekly requirements for types of fruits and vegetables served to be sure a variety is offered along with maximum and minimum requirements for meats and grains to be offered.
One of the reasons for the changes, according to Musser, is to try to improve the diet/health of students and also to fight high childhood obesity which is being seen in the schools.
“The changes won’t come easy for some of the students who may not respond well to the new offerings,” she said. “The challenge will be to entice students to try new foods that haven’t necessarily been seen on the menu before. Meigs was a bit ahead of the curve and started implementing a few new foods last school year. While any change takes time, our students last year responded generally well to the new offerings.”
As for the breakfasts offered to students, there are no changes this year, but Musser said beginning with the 2013-14 school year that program, too, will see some changes.