Provided by Prince William County Schools
Choice and opportunity combined to give PWCS elementary students even greater school lunches last year. For the first time, self-serve garden and fruit bars became a fixture in elementary school cafeterias, as they have been for several years in middle and high schools.
That pioneering, innovative approach also caught the attention of the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), which awarded PWCS the top award in the Healthy School Meals category in the 2017 VSBA Food for Thought Competition. PWCS competed among districts in its population bracket. Governor Terry McAuliffe presented the award today to Prince William School Board Vice Chairman Lillie Jessie (Occoquan) during the VSBA Conference on Education in Richmond.
The PWCS entry, “Self-Serve Garden and Fruit Bar at Elementary Schools,” not only described how students could choose and serve themselves at a food bar, but also how they could learn proper portion sizes, self-serve etiquette and hygiene, and develop motor skills. The idea that self-serve fruits and vegetables increases a child’s consumption of fruit and vegetables has been well documented by the Let’s Move! Initiative. Research shows that greater intake of fruits and vegetables could lower students’ risk for heart disease, hypertension, and some cancers.
To prepare for the implementation of self-serve garden and fruit bars in elementary schools, PWCS piloted the idea at ten schools in Spring 2016. The program was implemented countywide in the fall of 2016.
Giving students fresh fruit and vegetable choices creates the perfect setting to have them load up their lunch trays with healthy food.