TCS prepares for start of school with fruits, veggies
Thomasville City Schools acquired a grant that will ensure elementary students enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables this upcoming year.
Brenda Watford, TCS child nutrition director, for the fourth consecutive year applied for and received a USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant to be used at Liberty Drive Elementary and Thomasville Primary School. The grant enables the TCS nutrition team to provide students at both schools with fresh produce for their afternoon snacks, a program that will expand this upcoming year thanks to the federal funding.
"We're so glad to have this program for the children," Watford said. "We get to do all kinds of different fruits and vegetables during a normal school day that we wouldn't be able to afford ordinarily. The kids just are always asking what they're having and they're excited to see what we're having."
TPS, with an enrollment of 893 students, received more than $54,000 for the 2013-14 school year, one of highest amounts awarded under the grant. Liberty Drive has 400 students and received $24,215.
"We're real tickled with that," said Watford.
Plans are to expand the afternoon snack program from three days a week to five this year. Children are exposed to a wide array of different produce, like starfruit and pomegranate, which has turned into a favorite among the students.
"We are super fortunate to have Brenda on our staff because she does so much for our students,” said Crystal Hodges, chairman of the Thomasville City Schools Board of Education. “She takes it on her own in the summertime to apply for these grants. She goes over and beyond because she truly does care.”
In addition to the snack, teachers present the children with nutritional information about the particular fruit or vegetable.
"It's really teaching the kids," Watford said. "They're getting to learn all about different fruit and vegetables they normally wouldn't be able to see. We also do demonstrations and we have a lot of fun with them."
The fruit and vegetables are purchased from Layton's Produce in Raleigh. Watford said she also combines the federal funding with another grant awarded through the USDA's Farm to School program, an initiative that supports local farmers.
"We're able to buy local produce," said Watford. "We're getting fruits and vegetables from farmers in North Carolina and we're able to feed the children. It's a win-win for everybody."
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.