Reservation getting more fruits, vegetables

<p>Students on the reservation are eating healthier in school, not only in the lunchroom but also in class.</p><p>Keshena Primary School and Menominee Tribal School are two of 178 schools in the state receiving U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks at least three times a week outside the school's regular meals.</p><p>Keshena Primary will receive $20,300 this year through the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program, while the tribal school will receive $9,700.</p><p>Keshena Primary is in its sixth year of receiving the USDA funds, according to Robert Ferguson, food services director for Menominee Indian School District.</p><p>"It's just a fantastic program. I absolutely love it," Ferguson said.</p><p>Described as a snack program, it has evolved to include educating students about new and unusual fruits and vegetables. Ferguson said Keshena Primary spent last month getting acquainted with rutabagas, and the school plans to introduce parsnip coins and yam sticks in the near future.</p><p>"(The rutabaga) is probably not everyone's favorite, but this is meant to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to the kids that maybe they wouldn't see at home," he said.</p>

By Lee Pulaski
Two schools get USDA funding for fresh food
<p>Students are accustomed to seeing the new fruits and vegetables, and that makes it easier for them to be accepted once they are integrated into the lunch menus, according to Ferguson.</p><p>The healthier eating habits are noticeable at Menominee Indian High School, where Ferguson coaches, he said, because those students learned them when they were at Keshena Primary.</p><p>"I'm seeing the athletes take fresh fruits and vegetables over 100-calorie chips, cookies or some kind of snack we might offer after school," he said. "We're definitely seeing a difference."</p><p>Tribal school officials did not return phone calls seeking details on their fruits and vegetables plan.</p><p>State education officials started working with the USDA in 2006 to bring in fresh fruits and vegetables as alternatives to some of the unhealthy foods children consume on a regular basis. Preference is given to schools where there is a higher rate of poverty.</p><p>About 88 percent of Menominee Indian School District's students are economically disadvantaged.</p><p>"Offering children a nutritious snack that builds healthy eating habits is a double win for our schools and families," State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a press release. "Fewer children will hit the hunger slump that pulls their attention away from their school lessons, and more kids will sample foods they may not otherwise encounter, building a foundation for healthier food choices beyond this grant program."</p>
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