HEALTH AND WELLNESS: A healthier schoolNutrition and fitness are a winning team at Phoenix Elementary School in Grand Forks. The school this month earned the Gold of Distinction award from the U.S. Agriculture Department Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services for meeting the agency’s HealthierUS School Challenge.
Nutrition and fitness are a winning team at Phoenix Elementary School in Grand Forks.
The school this month earned the Gold of Distinction award from the U.S. Agriculture Department Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services for meeting the agency’s HealthierUS School Challenge.
The award is the first given to any school in the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s 10-state region. It included a monetary prize of $2,000.
The HealthierUS School Challenge awards are given to schools that make detailed improvement to their programs and address childhood obesity, USDA said. About 850 gold, silver and bronze awards have been given to schools in 34 states.
Lisa Pino, USDA Food and Nutrition Service deputy administrator for supplemental nutrition, called the award a “tremendous accomplishment.” The healthy environment that Phoenix created is the most effective way to shape the health, education and well-being of the next generation, Pino said.
Phoenix began focusing efforts on incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into snacks and lunches three years ago under the guidance of Julie Tunseth, Grand Forks School District child nutrition manager. Each week Phoenix students are served a variety of fruits and vegetables from guava to grapes and jicima to red peppers.
School officials hope that by exposing children to fruits and vegetables they may develop a taste for them and request their parents to buy them.
“The hope is that that they go home and say, ‘Mom, I like red peppers,’” said Darryl Tunseth, Phoenix Elementary principal.
Besides encouraging children to try a variety of fruits and vegetables, children also learn facts about them, such as where they’re grown, Tunseth said.
“It’s not just having them eat healthy. It’s the educational part of it,” he said. Meanwhile, each week a trivia board in the cafeteria beginning on Monday, gives clues about a certain fruit and vegetable. A new clue is added each day of the week, until a student guesses the answer.
Sometimes the answer isn’t as obvious as it may seem. For instance, a recent week’s clues were about an orange vegetable that is harvested in the fall and is good for your eyes.
Nope, sweet potatoes.
“We’re having fun with it,” Tunseth said.
He and the students also are enjoying the fitness part of the HealtheirUS School Challenge. Phoenix offers open gym to students each school day from 7:50 a.m. to 8:05 a.m.
“They just run and round and have fun,” said Tunseth, who supervises the open gym.
Classroom teachers also have exercise DVDS which students can check out.
“Students can move in their room, right next to their desks, or down the row,” Tunseth said.
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