Program introduces students to exotic fruits and veggies

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, the potential of a pluot could be limitless.

Pluots, a plum-apricot-hybrid, is one of many unique fruits and vegetables the U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes will become a favorite of Idaho elementary school students. At least that’s the idea behind the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program.

“The list is pretty extensive,” said Kylie Dixon, a kindergarten teacher at Ethel Boyes Elementary School. “Mostly, we did it because with the demographics in our schools these days, a lot of kids aren’t getting exposed to fruits and vegetables. Especially the ones that are uncommon.”

Ethel Boyes is one of the 117 schools to benefit from the program, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2015.

Dixon filed the application on behalf of Ethel Boyes and received $18,805.76.

Schools must apply to participate in the program. The amount of money awarded is based on student enrollment. Grants to individual schools range from $350 to $34,410.54. In Idaho, the state’s schools received a combined total of more than $2.1 million.

Five schools in Idaho Falls School District 91 are participating in the program. District spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said students will benefit from the program.

“The thing that’s great about the program is it’s a way to introduce fruits and vegetables to the children and encourage them to eat healthier and make them aware of the variety,” she said.

The program strives to mix in uncommon fruits and vegetables alongside apples, oranges and other common fruits and veggies.

A.H. Bush Elementary School received $25,307 grant.

“The fact that we could have that provided was an advantage for us, we thought,” Principal Sarah Sanderssaid. “Also, that it’s a healthy snack; plus it’s an unusual snack — just things that kids wouldn’t typically try. Some of these I haven’t even had as an adult.”

The fruits and vegetables will be given out once a day, in addition to whatever produce comes with the lunches provided by the schools.

“Kids learn better when their brain is fed, and fed good food,” Sanders said.

Reporter Aubrey Wieber can be reached at 542-6755.