LINCOLN Hundreds of Alcona Elementary School students sampled healthy treats served up by fifth- and sixth-graders Wednesday as a hands-on lesson in healthy eating.
According to nutrition adviser Judy MacNeill, the program, Fuel Up to Play 60, empowers youngsters to make good choices for themselves about food. The program also encourages them to be active at least 60 minutes a day.
With the help of a $4,000 grant, MacNeill launched the program last fall by forming a group of eight Alcona fifth- and sixth-graders, who met weekly and served as her advisory committee.
"I've worked with adults all my life, and have worked with committees," MacNeill said. "But to work with the fifth and sixth grade wellness committee re-energized me. They were enthusiastic and they took ideas and ran with them."
Earlier in the year, the committee decided to provide each of the school's 370 students with a pedometer and hold a walking competition by class, she said. The panel tracked the miles students turned in and the yet-to-be announced winning class will get to go bowling, MacNeill said.
This spring's project was the "Tasting Celebration Fair" Wednesday. At 1 p.m., kindergarteners were take into the gym and guided past the sampling tables, where they were served by committee members. A fifth table taught them about the importance of hand washing and using a black light to reveal germs.
As they finished, older classes of students lined up and tried the treats.
"What I though was hilarious is the younger kids were more likely to try something new," MacNeill said. "The older kids were less adventurous, which reinforces to me that it is important to introduce a greater variety of foods to kids at a younger age."
MacNeill spent days preparing the treats, and the first versions were sampled and revised by her young nutrition committee. The tasting menu included a fresh fruit cocktail, edamame soybean pods, an mini-ice cream cone filled with a raspberry, Greek yogurt and chocolate chips, and a no-bake peanut butter granola treat.
The yogurt was the most popular, MacNeill said. The no-bake granola, with its heady, peanut-butter fragrance, also was a hit, especially after the taste panel told MacNeill to leave dried fruit out of the recipe.
"It's really good," Hunter Canute, a fifth-grade server and committee member, said. "I was happy when I was assigned this. It's my favorite of all of them."
The other committee members were: sixth-graders Pierce Bilbey, Malcom Dix, Brianna Fogel, Trinity Keyser, Faith Wallenmaier and Matthew Warner, and fifth-grader Rose Schopfer.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.