Snacking not lacking in good health |

Snacking not lacking in good health

CARBONDALE ” Diana Fuentes and her fellow Crystal River Elementary School students are not only learning about eating healthy snacks this semester. Fuentes even learned a new word last week.

“What do you think of the cantaloupe?” asks her third grade teacher Brandi Corbett.

“It’s melon,” replies Fuentes matter-of-factly.

“Yes,” Corbett agrees, “it is a melon. And cantaloupe is a type of melon.”

Besides the added bonus of expanding their vocabulary, since returning from the holiday break in January CRES students have been introduced to a variety of healthy snacks through the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant-funded Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program.

One day a week, each grade receives a healthy treat during morning snack time, sometimes with a dip du jour, such as carrots with humus.

Last week it was blueberries, another time it was blackberries. They’ve even had jicama, a mango and corn salsa.

“I like all of the fruits,” Fuentes said. “Everything they give us tastes good.”

CRES parents David Teitler and Amanda Brooke spearheaded the effort, with help from grant-writer Debbie Bruell, also a CRES parent and a Roaring Fork School District school board member.

“One of our goals was to expose kids who maybe had never had an opportunity to be exposed to those types of foods, to be able to try them,” Teitler said.

A local acupuncturist and herbalist, Teitler’s larger mission is to improve the overall quality of the schools’ food service programs.

“When (the school district) gave us this grant possibility, Amanda and I felt like it was something we couldn’t pass up,” he said. “We would see kids at our school bringing those hot, spicy Cheetos, or no snack at all. We wanted to be able to provide some healthier kinds of foods.”

Bruell wrote the grant last fall. The grants are awarded to only one school per district in the state, and CRES received $21,000 with the possibility that it may be renewed for next school year.

CRES Principal Karen Olson said it was an easy thing for her to support.

“The parents came to me and asked if there was any reason we couldn’t do it,” she said. “That’s the nice thing when you have active parents and staff, is I just get to say yes to other people’s good ideas.”

Each day, CRES cafeteria director Claudia Diaz arranges and prepares the daily snack to take to whichever grade is receiving the snack that day.

“If the kids are hungry, they’re free to grab whatever it is we have that day,” Olson said. “Then they go right back in the classroom and start working again, so there’s very little disruption in their learning.”

Teitler said the snack food comes from a vendor for now, but added that the school district food services director, Michelle Hammond, has been working some connections in Paonia to buy local produce on occasion.

“And when the farmers market is going, we’d like to be able to order bushels of peaches or pears to use in the program,” he said.

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