Apples’ crunch teaches healthy eating habits

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Tenth Street Elementary third-grader Megan Hughes bites into an Indiana-grown apple she received on her lunch tray as part of the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch at the school in Jasper on Thursday. Megan said the local apple tasted better than the regular school lunch apples.


JASPER — Tenth Street Elementary fifth-graders Henry Hostetter and Isaiah Pardo plunged plastic straws from the Juicy Juice boxes into their apple slices Thursday hoping to yield some juice.

“We’re trying to make a homemade apple juice,” Isaiah said. He wasn’t having much luck.

Next to him at the lunch table, Henry managed to suck a few drops of juice through his straw, along with a lot of apple pulp. He was glad for the success since he prefers drinking apple juice to eating an apple.

Students at Fifth and Tenth Street elementaries ate apples grown in the Great Lakes region Thursday as part of the Great Lakes Apple Crunch, a healthy eating initiative spanning Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The idea, according to Greater Jasper Food Service Director Katie Knies, is for the students to bite into a crisp apple so they hear the crunch. Beyond the crunch, the hope is that the kids get excited about healthy eating.

Tenth Street Elementary fifth-grader Henry Hostetter tries to suck juice out of an Indiana-grown apple he received as part of the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch at the school in Jasper on Thursday. Henry's friend, fifth-grader Isaiah Pardo, jokingly said, "This is how apple juice is made."

“We’ve been working on that with school lunch,” Knies said.

Fifth and Tenth Street are also both recipients of the Upgrade grant from the Welborn Baptist Foundation of Evansville. The grant is a $75,000 multi-year intervention that aims to facilitate change within schools by implementing the coordinated school health approach to develop healthy eating and active lifestyle behaviors among students, their families and school staff. Part of the grant involves creating healthy eating habits, and that is where the Great Lakes Apple Crunch came in.

Although the apple crunch is not affiliated with the Upgrade grant, when Knies found out about the program, she knew it fit right in with the grant’s mission. The University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems developed the program for National Farm to School Month. The program is a way to connect local farmers to students in an effort to show students what foods are grown locally, in this case, apples.

At Fifth and Tenth Street, students crunched into golden, delicious apple slices made from Garwood Orchard apples from La Porte.

When third -grader Marinela Galvez saw the green-colored apple slices on her tray, she got excited. She prefers the pale green apples to the red delicious apples the school usually serves. Marinela’s friend, fellow third-grader Violet Trujillo, was happy to have the apples, although she would have preferred another green variety — the Granny Smith.

“I like the sour,” she said.

Overall, Tenth Street Cafeteria Manager Karen Gudorf said, the students tend to like apples, no matter how they’re served. That’s good news, since October is National Apple Month. To celebrate, Gudorf is putting a different apple dish on the menu each week. Last week was applesauce. This week came the crunchy apple slices. Next up will be hot cinnamon apples. She’s not sure what the fourth week’s apple dish will be, but she knows it’ll be a winner regardless.

“They do like apples,” she said of her students.

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