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Fit to Be Taught, Vol.25

Kids Give Plum Burgers a Thumbs Up!


Plum burgers. Sweet potato pancakes. Turkey and plum hot dogs. Those are just some of the foods the U.S. Department of Agriculture has tested in school lunches to see whether kids like the taste. The results have been encouraging -- which could mean both a way of using surplus foods and providing more-healthful school lunches for kids.

So among the other foods that could be coming soon to a cafeteria tray near you: hamburgers mixed with plum puree and barbecue sauce made from raisins.

Many of those more-healthful school lunch offerings received a thumbs up from students in taste tests run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service.

"The hamburgers were good," said Latia, a sixth grader at the former Van Ness Elementary School in Washington, D.C., who participated in a taste test. "They tasted normal."

The USDA conducted six tests in two years at schools in California and Washington, D.C., to determine whether kids would eat school lunches that include certain surplus foods, according to John Lund, head of food quality assurance for the Agricultural Marketing Service. The foods were prepared by vendors who contracted with the USDA. "We're trying to show what you can work into foods kids like, so meals can be lower in fat," Lund said. "It's a win-win situation for agriculture." About 20 percent of the food on school cafeteria trays comes from USDA purchases.

Read the full article on Education World.

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Growing Interest in Nutrition

Garden projects began in the Knox County (Tennessee) School District through grants from the Tennessee Farm Bureau in 1995. Since that time, garden projects have sprung up in at least 30 local elementary schools. Teachers integrate gardening and nutrition themes in many subject areas, including math, science, social studies, art, and language arts.

The gardening project enables students to increase their knowledge of nutrition and understand the relationship between growing foods, consuming them, and fighting chronic diseases. They have the opportunity to plant, tend, and harvest their own food supply. Students also identify and taste many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, increasing the variety of foods in their diets.

Students also are much more willing to try unfamiliar foods if they grow them themselves. Teachers have evidence of the increase in the consumption of edible plant foods and said that gardening is the best method of teaching nutrition education. Gardening also increases physical activity.

The program also involves the community; parents and local businessmen donate plants, seeds, and soil, and volunteer to speak in classes.

Read more about this program at: Planting Gardens, Growing Minds: Integrating Gardening.

Click to learn more about Action for Healthy Kids.

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