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Published June 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

North Dakota schools get grants for fruits and vegetables

Some North Dakota students will see more fresh fruit this fall.

By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM

Some North Dakota students will see more fresh fruit this fall.

Three local elementary schools are among 62 North Dakota schools awarded $800,000 in federal grants to offer all students more fruits and vegetables.

“It’s really well-received,” said Deb Laber, nutrition services director for the Fargo School District.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program funds low-income schools that typically have at least 50 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-cost meals.

The hope is that giving out fruit and vegetables at snack time will encourage students to eat more of the healthy produce at school and at home.

It’s so well-received that Deb Egeland, manager of school nutritional programs with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, said grocery stores in Kulm noticed increases in fruit and vegetable sales as students request the healthy produce outside of their school.

“It’s a very successful program,” she said.

Laber found out Monday that Fargo’s Jefferson Elementary received more than $6,000 and Madison Elementary received more than $3,000. Both schools received the funding last year – the first year of the program.

Fifty-seven North Dakota schools were awarded funds last year. This is the first year that West Fargo’s L.E. Berger Elementary made the list.

“I truly believe it will make a difference,” said West Fargo Food Service Director Jan Sliper. She hopes Eastwood Elementary will be awarded funds next year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515