Area schools celebrate Food Day
By Angie Landsverk
Local educators helped students make a connection between what they eat and how they feel.
Schools throughout Waupaca County participated in this year’s Food Day Apple Crunch.
Food Day is celebrated nationally on Oct. 24.
On or around that day, people throughout the country crunched into an apple as a way to raise awareness about eating better diets, having access to fruits and vegetables, and supporting local farmers.
In the Great Lakes Region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, students celebrated National Farm to School Month and Food Day by crunching into locally and regionally grown apples on Thursday, Oct. 22.
“It’s about buying locally, knowing where your food comes from, having those healthy options available for students and supporting local farmers so we’ll continue to have them in the future,” said Alex Berg, who is the local Farm to School community outreach coordinator.
Last week’s Food Day Apple Crunch activity took place in collaboration with Farm to School and the Waupaca County Nutrition and Activity Coalition (NuAct).
NuAct seeks to promote healthy eating and physically active lifestyles and purchased about 1,000 apples from Christensen’s Orchard for this month’s Farm to School lesson about apples.
Jean Oberstadt, the local Farm to School nutrition educator, goes into the third-grade classrooms of every elementary school in Waupaca County.
She does a series of five nutrition lessons with those students over the course of the school year, said Christi Beilfuss, the nutrition coordinator for the Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program (WNEP) in Waupaca County.
Oberstadt highlighted apples in October to coordinate with the Food Day Apple Crunch.
Each third grader tried three different kinds of apples and compared the tastes and appearances of them, Berg said.
Schools throughout the county were also invited to participate in the Food Day Apple Crunch.
Each year, NuAct does something to recognize and support Food Day, Beilfuss said.
Apple Crunch originated in New York City in 2012, when about 400,000 people bit into a locally grown New York State apple at the same time on Food Day.
Since then, the activity has spread throughout the country.
Last year was the first year Waupaca County participated in the Apple Crunch.
Beilfuss said they put together ideas related to the day and created a newsletter to distribute to the schools.
“Last year, we encouraged schools to ask parents to send apples (with their children to school). They either had food service order them or the kids brought them,” she said.
This year, they tweaked what they had done last year.
“NuAct wouldn’t be able to do this without the Farm to School program,” Beilfuss said.
Last year, six out of the seven school districts in the county participated in Food Day in some way.
This year, another district participated for the first time.
Students at Fremont Elementary, Iola-Scandinavia Elementary, Marion Elementary, Longfellow Elementary in Clintonville and Lincoln, Sugar Bush and Readfield elementary schools in the New London School District celebrated Food Day, with students at Fremont, Longfellow and Lincoln elementary schools doing the actual Apple Crunch.
At Fremont Elementary, the students learned about apples, did a relay in which they had to match pictures of apples to their proper names and also tried apple cider.
Holly Olsen, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, said the school’s Fuel Up to Play 60 team met to plan the Apple Crunch event.
The students brainstormed ideas, wanting the students to be more involved at the assembly.
“This is the second year our school has had an Apple Crunch Day, and the kids loved it,” Olsen said. “Last year, we included an apple cheer, a balancing apples game and a guest appearance by Johnny Appleseed.”
Berg guided all of the schools to local apple growers and placed orders for some of the schools.
They partnered with Christensen’s Orchard in Waupaca, Thern’s Apples in New London and Honken’s Hilltop Farm in Iola.
The Waupaca School District highlighted the apple as its Farm to School Food of the Month and purchased its apples from McCrossen LLC Lucy’s Farm in Waupaca, Beilfuss said.
“The goal is to encourage or celebrate Food Day by eating a local apple,” she said.
Beilfuss said the exciting part about this year’s event was that it brought awareness about and support for local apple orchards.
“It’s to celebrate locally grown foods and have a general knowledge of where food comes from,” she said.