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Healthy food choices: Dietetic project begins at Freedom

LIMA — An enthusiastic group of Freedom Elementary students gathered in the school cafeteria Wednesday for the kickoff of the Crave the FAV project.

Crave the FAV — which stands for Fruits And Vegetables — is a nutrition education and research project led by the dietetic internship program at Bluffton University in partnership with Lima schools and DNO Produce, the company based in Columbus providing the fruits and vegetables to Lima schools and Activate Allen County.

“This spring we were approached by Lima city schools and DNO Produce about doing a project within the Lima city school system,” said Jennifer Little, dietetic internship experience coordinator. “The project is intended to increase the understanding of how the fresh fruit and vegetable program could be expanded to include an educational component.”

Bluffton University dietetic interns will be in the cafeteria at Freedom Elementary every Wednesday during lunch to do educational activities with students kindergarten through fourth grade as part of the Crave the FAV project, she said. The purpose of this project is to explain why fruits and vegetables are important to good health.

Kayla Monfort, director of Activate Allen County, said about 30 percent of children in Allen County fall into obesity parameters. The hope for Crave the FAV is to teach children to eat healthier at a younger age so they make wise lifelong choices.

When lunch was served, many children treated their fruit like dessert, eating their pizzas first. The salad offered was not as popular as the fruit, but some children did choose to eat it.

Freedom Elementary was a pilot school for the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant for schools with high poverty, said Carrie Woodruff, food service director for Lima schools. Through the program, Lima schools offer samples of a variety of fruits and vegetables for all schools in the city.

“It is extremely important to have fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said. “We actually have, in all of the elementary, middle schools and high school, fresh vegetables and fruits every day. It’s not part of the requirement for USDA, but it’s part of my requirement for Lima city schools.”

Dietetic intern Josh Becasen kicks off Crave the FAV at Freedom Elementary on Wednesday. This is a year-long nutrition education and research project led by Bluffton University’s dietetic internship program to determine the impact of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program offered by Lima schools. Students are currently introduced to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to sample through the USDA’s FFVP program. Through Crave the FAV, students at Freedom will also receive weekly 10-15 minute nutrition education activities, which are planned through March.

Xavier Whitted, 7, and Aiden Mendenhall, 8, kick off the Crave the FAV by eating fresh fruit during lunch at Freedom Elementary School on Wednesday. Interns, who are studying to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist exam, will conduct research on whether the educational component makes an impact on students choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Dietetic project begins at Freedom

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362

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