Sumner students get healthy start

Published 4:29 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Elementary students at Sumner and Woodson are in for a treat this year. They’re participating in a healthy snack foods program partially funded by the state Department of Health’s State Health Improvement Program.

For $35 for the entire year, kids at Sumner and Woodson will be provided a healthy snack every day they come to school. This means fruits, vegetables, cereal and other healthy foods will be provided to students at some point during the day, which they can either eat or take home.

“They do need to have a snack just to keep their stamina going through the day,” Jean McDermott, principal of Woodson Kindergarten Center said.

Email newsletter signup

Woodson kindergarteners sign up for one of two snacks every day, which rotates on a two-week cycle. Sumner students are able to pick from more than 10 healthy snacks before they go to class. Teachers at each school will assign a snack time based on when they eat lunch, although students can take their snack home if they so wish.

The program is funded in a variety of ways. According to Mary Weikum, the district’s director of food and nutrition, SHIP allots a certain amount of money per county throughout the state. While the district received $800 from SHIP to be used for carts and storage bins, other donors and grant money is being used to fund scholarships for the program.

While all Woodson students are participating in the program, about 80 percent of Sumner kids are enrolled in the healthy snacks initiative. According to Sumner Principal Sheila Berger, about 75 percent of Sumner students qualify for free and reduced lunches. There are no free snacks in the program, however. That’s why the district has found other means of paying for program scholarships, such as a $750 grant to Sumner and another $750 to Woodson via the United Way of Mower County’s Health and Wellness Initiative. Sumner parents who want their kids to be a part of the program can apply for a scholarship, or go on a monthly pay plan. However, Sumner could use a few more donations to help pay those costs.
“We’ve given scholarships to as many as we can,” Berger said. “We’re still trying to find people to donate to help students have a healthy snack each day.”

According to district officials, the program has met with nothing but positive reviews. Weikum said the snack program is expected to go district-wide as early as the spring, as SHIP is only a two-year program that will eventually disappear.