DADE CITY, Fla. - Students at Lacoochee Elementary are allowed and encouraged to snack during class, but there is a catch!
Lacoochee Elementary is one of two schools in Pasco County participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Kids get to snack in class, but only on fruits and vegetables provided by the school.
The program targets schools where most of the students participate in free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs and might not have access to fruits and vegetables at home.
"If we can teach a child at a younger age the importance of making healthy choices, then they are healthy as a child and they will grow into healthy adults," said Pasco County school district dietician Emily Mark. She said students snack on apples, carrots, grapes, broccili, celery and a lot more.
Kids seem to be taking to the healthy experiment. "You can concentrate more than when you are hungry," said 3rd grader Brett Bacon. "It tastes good and is healthy for me," added 3rd grader Jordan McLaughlin.
Teacher Jacqueline Tellez is seeing added benefits. "Sometimes they are like 'what is that.' They are not sure what it is, so it becomes a teaching moment. I might not just teach math, but I might teach more about that fruit," she said. "I have seen a lot of progress in their concentration, and they are just happy. They are happy to be eating and learning."
More than 130 schools in Florida are participating in this program.
Tellez said students have had the hardest time warming up to broccili, and the crowd favorite is grapes!
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