Kids learn ABCs of fruits and vegetables - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Kids learn ABCs of fruits and vegetables

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Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 6:37 pm | Updated: 2:35 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

"I dare you to try that!" "Awww gross!" "This is cool!" "Awesome!" It was a mixed reaction Wednesday as Coronado Elementary School students walked into the cafeteria and saw a large salad bar containing fruits and vegetables to coincide with every letter of the alphabet.

"I dare you to try that!" "Awww gross!"

"This is cool!" "Awesome!"

It was a mixed reaction Wednesday as Coronado Elementary School students walked into the cafeteria and saw a large salad bar containing fruits and vegetables to coincide with every letter of the alphabet.

Second-grader Macey Jacobs piled her plastic serving tray with watermelon and grapes. She was planning to be a little adventurous and try yams, radishes and mushrooms.

"I'm going back for a million refills," Macey said. "It's really cool and it surprised me. We've never had all of this before."

The kindergarten-to-eighth-grade Gilbert school's regular salad bar was multiplied by three, and a special A to Z salad bar offered up everything from apples, blueberries and carrots, to jicama, yellow squash and zucchini. The salad bar was free for students to enjoy with their lunch.

The more obscure items, such as coconut, quince, papaya, ugli fruit and "xtra fancy" star fruit, were on display but not available to eat because they weren't in season or were harder to find.

The "traveling nutrition bar" is part of the nutritious education programs offered by Sodexo, which contracts with the Higley Unified School District to serve food, said Shawn Stevenson, a Sodexo general manager for food services.

"Most adults don't know there's a fruit and vegetable for every letter of the alphabet, so I'm sure kids don't either," Stevenson said.

The most popular items were the standard fruits and vegetables, with students clamoring for the strawberries, watermelon and grapes. Many also chose to try the limes, figs and red onions.

Fourth-grader Trevon Baker tried a date and said it tasted like a raisin.

Jakob Marquez, another fourth-grader, ate a radish for the first time, saying it was "crunchy."

The fruit and vegetable salad bars have been making the rounds throughout the district, and students at Power Ranch, Centennial, Higley and San Tan elementary schools already had their day to try the salad bar.

Gateway Pointe, Cortina and Chaparral elementary schools will have a chance to taste at the end of January, Stevenson said.

Sodexo has offered the A to Z salad bars for the past several years in the Kyrene, Tolleson and Catalina Foothills school districts.

Besides the salad bar, Sodexo's "Lift-off" blue star mascot walked around, high-fiving and hugging students.

Kristina Keisala, an eighth-grader, piled limes, oranges, strawberries and pineapple on her plate. She said she's not a vegetable fan, except for mushrooms. Kristina did try the jicama but didn't like it.

"I love it (the salad bar) because it's different," she said. "We don't get it every day."

Eighth-grader Rose Thompson tried eggplant for the first time, saying it tasted "really weird, kind of sweet and spicy."

"I liked the dates and the kidney beans, but not the eggplant," said Rose, adding that she thought the salad bar was a good idea. "All the kids like it, and it's something new instead of having all the same stuff."

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