School Challenge’s seventh year of making fruits and veggies fun and popular
Across western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities, school children are busy voting for their favorite veggies and trying for five a day.
The PowerUp School Challenge has returned to schools for its seventh year. It brought its tried and tested formula to classrooms at
Paperjack Elementary, Hillside Elementary, Starr Elementary and St. Mary’s schools in New Richmond in January and February and got kids from kindergarten through fifth grade excited about fruits and veggies.
In 2017, 85 percent of teachers and 73 percent of families said they saw kids eating more fruits and veggies after taking part in School Challenge.
A key part of School Challenge is the veggie vote, where kids try five veg in their class and vote on their favorites. They also use a fun tracker to record fruits and veggies eaten during the three-week challenge.
“Children see their peers trying veggies and it becomes the popular thing to do,” said Marna Canterbury, MS, RD, Director of Community Health, Lakeview Health Foundation. “It’s great for families to include lots of fruits and veggies in their meals. And when kids see that it’s easy and fun to eat them with friends, too, it really takes off.”
About 60 schools across the St. Croix Valley and Twin Cities are taking part this year. At Amery Intermediate and Lien Elementary School in Amery, Wisconsin, parents saw the difference in their children right away.
“My child hasn’t eaten any vegetable other than a carrot in over two years,” said mom Andrea Smith, of her kindergartener, Cash. “He came home and wanted to eat squash and red cabbage. He ate celery at supper and told me he wants red cabbage tomorrow. He’s willing to try other color peppers. This program is amazing! I’m so grateful.”
Another Amery family also quickly became a fan.
“The School Challenge is working,” said Katie Johnson, mom of Brady and Paul. “My reluctant veggie eater sat at dinner and ate not only his roasted veggies, but also finished off his raw veggies from school. For some kids, the School Challenge might be their only positive association with a vegetable!”