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Grant broadens nutrition program

Getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables is something parents struggle with every day, but at Pike County Elementary School, it’s just part of the routine.

At PCES, parental dreams become a reality with the school’s fresh fruit and vegetable program.

As part of the program, all students are given a different fruit or vegetable to eat every afternoon, in an effort to promote healthier eating habits.

But these students don’t suffer through eating their fruits and veggies. They look forward to it.

“They love it,” said Brooke Terry, with Pike County Schools Child Nutrition Program. “Every time I’m walking around campus, they talk about how much they love it.”

Terry said the program began this school year, with a more than $28,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Program.

In conjunction with the fruit and vegetable snacks, Terry said students participate in a weekly nutrition lecture. In the spring, Troy University’s School of Nursing students will come to the school and conduct a wellness check, and the Pike County Extension Office will take over the nutrition programs.

Terry said the school is one of 25 in the state which has the program, and she hopes it will make a difference in the health of the students.

“We’re just hoping instead of going home after school and eating chips or little cakes, they’ll choose a fruit or vegetable,” Terry said.

“We’re hoping this will teach healthy habits.”

Terry said students get a variety of produce, from pears, plums and kiwi to broccoli, cauliflower and grape tomatoes.

“We want them to experience different kinds of fruits and vegetables that they might not get at home,” Terry said.

While only PCES has the program now, district officials hope to expand to all the schools in the system in the future.