Beginning this week, 25 elementary students from Andes Central School will be bringing food-filled brown bags home, instead of to school.
Robert Chakar, superintendent of the school, said each student in pre-Kindergarten through second grade will receive a brown bag on Friday afternoon that will be full of healthy snacks to bring home for the weekend. The mission, he said, is to put nutritious foods in kids’ hands, giving them healthy eating options for the weekend.
“We want to condition their taste buds,” Chakar said. “If we provide healthy food, we know they’ll eat it. And, hopefully, they may become lifelong healthy eaters.”
The initiative is in line with a national agenda that both the President and First Lady have been pushing, Chakar said. The breakfasts and lunches that are made in the school cafeteria are healthy, Chakar said, but students are often faced with harder choices when they get home.
According to MSNBC, Michelle Obama recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of her Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was created in 2010 during a national obesity epidemic. Through this act and the Let’s Move initiative, the Obama administration has pushed for healthier school menus, expanded free lunches and expanded after-school exercise programs and, most recently, worked to eliminate sugar-filled, fatty foods from school vending machines.
Chakar said the brown bag program is a community-based initiative, organized by the Andes Food Bank and Tom Joyce, a member of the Andes Town Council. Fresh fruit, raisins and granola will fill the bags which, Chakar said, will go home with students every Friday. Eventually, the school would like to be able to provide the healthy snack bags for third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders, as well, he said.
Tom Joyce said he spoke with Joi Brundege, manager of the Andes Food Bank, over the summer, and discussed the possibility of providing healthy food for students then. This winter, as fuel and food prices went up, Joyce said, it became clear that it would be the perfect time.