Editor's Note: The following is a release from the Valley View School District.
With five months under their belt and four more to go, new healthy snacks program is doing its part to make sure students at the elementary school are not only prepared mentally to learn but also physically as well.
“It’s having a big impact on learning,” said Principal Ted Warpinski, who last summer set a goal of serving students at least three healthy snacks each week when he learned Ward did not receive its customary “fruits and vegetables grant” from the state.
The challenge, Warpinski knew, was finding the money to replace the approximately $20,000 grant that brought fresh fruits and vegetables to students’ classrooms on an almost daily basis. But thanks to the school’s newly formed Healthy Snack Committee, staff, parents and the community have stepped up to help the children.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Warpinski said. “I was very impressed with how the staff and community have come together.”
B.J. Ward’s initial effort, a community garage sale last summer, raised almost $6,000. Food and monetary donations from local churches, , , and staff members stretched those funds.
And parents were called on to help as well.
“Parents have been very good about bringing things in for their child’s classroom,” Warpinski said. “For many valid reasons, some of the parents in some of the classrooms haven’t been as generous but in many of them, parents have been more than generous to where we can actually use some of the excess to support other classrooms.”
Warpinski also credits what he terms “the extreme couponers” on the Healthy Snack Committee for working behind the scenes to find “some pretty thrifty ways to spend our money.”
Staff members Kelly Conway, Val Marion, Nicole Tulo, Shelley Vargas, Ramon Correa and Maura Raslowsky are all members of the committee.
The healthy snacks, which include bananas, sliced apples or Cuties (small oranges) two or three times a month and healthy snack foods like granola bars on other days, supplement Ward’s healthy lunch program which serves roughly 800 apples, 350 oranges, 120 bananas, 120 pears, 80 pineapples and 1,500 fruit cups in any given week.
“It has worked well,” said Warpinski, adding the only question is whether funds will last until school is out in June, particularly since he hopes to have healthy snacks every day for every student in grades 3-5 when they take ISATs the first two weeks in March.
Meanwhile, the entire school is holding its breath in hopes Ward will once again be a recipient of the state’s fruit and vegetable grant for next year.
“Whatever it takes,” Warpinski said. “You have to go with what’s right for the kids.”