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Newton County School System (NCSS) elementary students can participate in the School Nutrition Program’s Fruit and Vegetable Challenge the week of May 12-16. Throughout the week, elementary classes will count and record the number of fruits and vegetables students eat at lunch each day. At the end of the week, the class in each elementary school with the highest average of fruits and vegetables eaten will win the challenge.

As part of the challenge, teachers are asked to identify fruits and vegetables offered on the school lunch menu each day and to share fun facts and nutrition information about fruits and vegetables with their students. Hopefully through educating students about the healthfulness of fruits and vegetables, students will be encouraged to consume more of these nutritious foods. 

Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients. They contain vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and K; minerals including potassium and magnesium; dietary fiber; and special compounds called phytonutrients or “plant nutrients,” which may have added health benefits and protect against certain diseases. Therefore, according to the MyPlate food guidance system, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that Americans fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables.

The USDA recommends that Americans include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in their diet in order to obtain the array of nutrients present within these foods. For example, red/orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots are high in vitamin A, which is needed for vision and a strong immune system.  Students in Newton County Schools can find a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables on school lunch and breakfast menus. Each week, students are offered red/orange vegetables and fruits such as oranges and baby carrots, beans and peas such as black eye peas and pinto beans, and dark green vegetables including broccoli and romaine lettuce salads. 

After lunch each day (May 12-16), teachers will ask each student to report the number of fruits and vegetables he/she ate at lunch and the class will keep a running tally on a classroom challenge chart. At the end of the week, the School Nutrition Program will calculate the average number of fruits and vegetables eaten by each class during the week. Students in the winning class will receive a prize pack with healthy eating promotional items such as a beaded “fruit and vegetable tracker” bracelet. The teacher of the winning class will receive gift certificates to purchase school supplies and a healthy eating bulletin board kit.

The School Nutrition Program received a grant from the Newton County Community Partnership, a division of the Georgia Family Connections Partnership, to conduct the challenge. The grant was funded by the Blank Family Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation.

For more information about the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge, please contact Brittany Bingeman, SNP Wellness Coordinator at or 770-784-4966.

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