New Gary school lunch provider entices kids to eat fruits and vegetables

2013-11-05T20:00:00Z 2013-11-06T10:21:07Z New Gary school lunch provider entices kids to eat fruits and vegetablesCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | Williams Elementary School students learned the ABCs of fruits and vegetables Tuesday.

The Gary Community School Corp. appointed SodexoMAGIC as its new food service provider this year. SodexoMAGIC is a joint venture between Magic Johnson Enterprises and Sodexo Inc. serving school districts and other businesses across the country. In line with federal school lunch requirements, it promotes healthful eating for students.

This week students at Williams and Banneker Elementary School will have an opportunity to try out a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of the school lunch program called A to Z Salad Bar.

Sponsored by SodexoMAGIC, the fun and educational program is designed to explain the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, while introducing students to a variety of new produce.

The event includes a jumbo self-service salad bar containing fruits and vegetables that begin with each letter of the alphabet. During the event, Williams students were encouraged to sample a variety of healthful foods and to include more fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks.

For example, students, teachers and a few parents tried zucchini, yams, raspberries, limes, jicama and honeydew melon. Students at Banneker Achievement Center will get an opportunity to enjoy the A to Z Salad Bar Wednesday.

Three representatives of SodexoMAGIC were at Williams to help serve students, including Myron Willis, operations manager, chef Brian Swift and chef Mike Szady.

Szady said several students told them they'd never tried some of the fruit on display. "That's our goal, to get them to try it and educate them about the different kids of fruits and vegetables available," he said.

Williams sixth-grader Tatyana Trout, 12, said she couldn't pick a favorite. "All of them were good," she said.

Parent Gekeitha Wright, who has three children at Williams Elementary, said she thought it was wonderful the company had so many different kinds of fruit available to students.

As she sat down with a plate in the school lunchroom, Wright said it was delicious. "I haven't tried all of these before. I didn't know there were so many in the alphabet," she said.

While some school districts across the country said their students turned up their noses at the more healthful lunches causing them to get out of the federal lunch program, local school districts have said that would not happen here, because too often the only healthful meal students may eat is at school.

Williams Principal Jacqueline Bowman said students seemed to enjoy the food and were excited about the variety. "It's been a good experience for them. Kids need to be exposed to a variety of things in the lunch menu because they may not get this at home," she said.

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