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Plum Assignment: Snacks at Recess

Students at Stevenson and Lee elementary schools are snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables during recess thanks to significant grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The grants of nearly $53,000 for Lee and $43,000 for Stevenson enable schools to provide fresh fruits and vegetables as a free snack outside of breakfast and lunch.

The two schools kicked off the program last week by lining up for fresh California plums. For some students, it was the first time they had tasted a plum.

"The Long Beach Unified School District understands the importance of creating a healthier school environment for our students, and we know that there is a direct correlation between good nutrition and academic success,” said Darlene Martin, LBUSD director of nutrition services. “The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program provides a healthy snack to fuel students' minds, while introducing them to new fruits and vegetables. That is something we truly value here."

A recent School Lunch Report Card by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ranks LBUSD’s meal program as one of the best nationally for serving healthful lunches.

The fruits and vegetables grant is just one way LBUSD is helping to create a healthier school environment. Breakfast and lunch menus provide whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy, kid-friendly favorites. Many of the menu items are made from scratch daily in the Nutrition Services production kitchen.

“We make our own sauces and other favorites like chicken chile verde, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato spiced bread and beef taco filling,” said Tiffanie Bas, a registered dietician for the school district. “Making our own items from scratch allows us to control the fat and sodium content but still make kid-friendly foods.”

The school district also provides nutrition education programs such as Harvest of the Month, which features a new fruit or vegetable each month and incorporates food with library and classroom activities.

See what’s for lunch.