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Fruit, vegetable program thriving in local schools

It may be difficult to get some children to eat their vegetables, but nutrition workers with the Russellville City School System have found it’s a lot easier when “The Corn Lady” comes to town.
This past Friday, famed Franklin County Watermelon Festival vendor Dady’s Roasted Corn, along with Miss Cornella, a life-sized ear of corn who shows students how fun it is to eat their vegetables, showed up to pass out freshly roasted ears of corn at Russellville Elementary and West Elementary schools.
The event has become a much beloved tradition with Russellville students and teachers alike since RCS Child Nutrition Director Elaine Vaughn made it part of the school system’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) nearly two years ago.
“The whole purpose of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is to get students interested in healthy foods and to have them try things they may have not tried before,” Vaughn said.
“The day that Dady’s Roasted Corn visits the schools is always exciting because the students and teachers have grown to love it so much. And when other kids see their classmates getting excited, it makes them excited to try the corn too.”
And Vaughn said teachers are no exception.
“The teachers get as excited as the students,” Vaughn said. “It’s just a great use of this program because it introduces healthy food in a fun way that gets kids excited.”
The FFVP, which is a government-funded grant program, is made available through the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, which amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch to offer extra fruits and vegetables as a snack during the school day.
This is the fifth school year that West Elementary has been able to participate in this program and the fourth year for Russellville Elementary.
For this school year, West Elementary received $35,722 and Russellville Elementary received $35,144 in grant funding that helps provide snacks such as pineapple, watermelon, carrots and many other fruits or vegetables on Tuesday and Thursday each week, along with the special day when Dady’s Roasted Corn is on campus.
In the program’s inaugural year, Russellville City Schools ended up being one of the 25 school systems chosen to participate in the FFVP.
“Our hope is that by at least trying these foods, the students will learn they have many healthy options when it comes to snacking and will choose healthier foods on their own in the future, which will hopefully lead to a lifelong healthy lifestyle,” Vaughn said.