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Healthy teenage eating promoted

With fewer than a quarter of high school students eating healthy fruits and vegetables five or more times per day, Pulaski County Public Schools and the local Extension Service are partnering to promote healthy eating in teens.
Extension Agent Sarah Burkett and School Nutrition Director Ethelene Sadler recently kicked off a new series of monthly nutrition displays at Pulaski County High School that will focus on fruits and vegetables and encourage students to improve their eating and lifestyle habits. The displays offer samples of various fruits and vegetables.
Student handouts were also distributed to reinforce the information presented.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, only 21.4 percent of high school students in 2007 reported eating fruits and vegetables five or more times per day over the course of a week. French fries and potato chips were excluded from the study.
Besides encouraging healthy eating, the PCHS displays also serve to make students more aware of the daily recommended serving sizes of fruits and vegetables.
During a recent display, trays of fruit and vegetable samples were offered to students at their tables during each lunch period. The students were encouraged to eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables each day, so the samples handed out were designed to reinforce that message.
The theme of the food samples was “put a rainbow on your plate, pick five a day.” Students received baby carrots and navel oranges to represent the color orange, cherry tomatoes and red delicious apples to represent red, cauliflower to represent white, purple grapes and purple cabbage to represent the color purple and cucumbers and kiwi to represent green.
Burkett, Sadler, Connie Wood and Virginia Tech Foods and Nutrition students Alexis Bressler and Kathleen Collins were on hand to field student and staff questions.
Burkett said student volunteers from Mr. Reno Palombit’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America class, who are in the Culinary Arts Program, “enthusiastically” prepared the fruits and vegetables used for sampling.
“Students were receptive to this program and especially appreciated the food samples,” said Burkett. “Several students commented, ‘When are you coming back? We wish you could come every day and do this!’”
The themes of future visits (on the third Monday of each month) include:
November, Breakfast; January, Let’s Get Moving!; February, Make Mealtime Pleasant; March, Teen Snacking; and April, Eat Local/Sustainability.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering to help with this project or who has suggestions for future projects to promote teen health, should contact Burkett at 980-7761 or sburkett@vt.edu.

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