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Porterdale Pre-K Students Trying Out Some Yummy Gooseberries!

As a result of a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) grant, students at two Newton County School System (NCSS) elementary schools, Porterdale Elementary and Middle Ridge Elementary, are able to enjoy a fresh fruit or vegetable snack during the school day. Through the grant, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), students receive a fresh fruit or vegetable snack four days per week, between meal times. Snacks are prepared in the cafeteria by the School Nutrition Program staff and served to students in their classroom by classroom teachers and paraprofessionals.

Some of the fruits and vegetables offered to students this year include fresh peaches, bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, kiwi fruit, broccoli florets, and mini carrots. In addition to enjoying typical fruit and vegetable favorites, students are introduced to more exotic types of produce.  On Tuesday, October 15, students sampled gooseberries, a unique berry in the currant family. This small, round, tart fruit is sometimes referred to as a Chinese lantern fruit due to its thin outer covering, which looks similar to this type of lantern. Students can expect to be offered other types of unusual produce this school year, such as icicle radishes. In contract to the more common round, red radish, the icicle radish is white and shaped like a short carrot. It has a milder flavor than the red variety, is low in calories, and provides an excellent source of vitamin C.

In addition to introducing students to different types of fruits and vegetables, the program aims to educate student about the healthfulness and nutritional benefits of these foods. While eating gooseberries, students learned that they are a good source of fiber and are high in vitamin C, which is needed for a healthy immune system, to protect gums and teeth, and to promote wound and cut healing.

Most fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the typical American diet. In general, fruits and vegetables are lower in fat, calories, and added sugars than many other foods. Research shows that eating a diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables is associated with long-term health benefits, such as reduced risks of developing certain chronic diseases. Therefore, programs such as the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, which introduce students to nutritious produce, are important to encourage them to establish life-long healthy eating habits.

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