Two dozen schools in Iowa will share in six-million dollars from the new farm bill, to come up with strategies to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. At Cedar Rapids Public Schools, Rosemary Berckes is school nurse and wrote the proposal for Hiawatha Elementary School to take part in the program. There are restrictions, like it can be snacks but not replace breakfast or lunch, and the school can be as inventive as they like. She says some buildings have chosen an after-school program, or kiosks in the hallways, and at Hiawatha kids already bring a healthy snack for one half the day, so they’ll use this money to put baskets of fruit in classrooms and provide a second snack. They can use ten-percent of the grant for administrative costs, which could mean being able to pay to bring in someone to prepare food or do a class with the kids, and perhaps buy a machine to make fresh juice or dehydrate some foods. There will third- and fourth-grade students on a team to think up more ideas, and Berckes says in the spring, Hiawatha will have a school health fair to elaborate on the theme of “Nutrition from A to Z.” They’re planning ideas like everyone choosing a few letters of the alphabet to try, and for their letter “A” they might get an apple, apricot or avocado, and another part of the fair might be a snack “mini-cookbook.” More than 800 schools applied to participate, and 100 were selected for the program.
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