MONTCLAIR, NJ - Food Day was inaugurated several years ago to get us thinking about … well… food. On Friday, schools all over Montclair celebrated food day in different ways. Nishuane Elementary School focused on the benefits of fresh fruit. Volunteers gathered hundreds of apples; parent volunteers washed, sliced and served them in the lunchroom. Childrenthen voted on which color apple they liked best.

Students went to school wearing the color of their favorite apple. However, during their lunch hour, they were afforded the chance to taste different varieties of fresh apples. Parents from the Health and Wellness committee stood outside the lunchroom engaging the children in conversation about healthy food habits. Principal McLaughlin, sporting a bright yellow sweater, spoke to the children about healthy food habits as well.

Eileen Lundberg, one of the parents organizing the event said, "Nishuane children were very excited to wear their favorite apple color and vote.  We talked about the power of the apple and how food choices and sugar impact their energy, behavior and the way they feel. They enjoyed the apple slices and the adults enjoyed their enthusiasm."

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On a display table, little sugar cubes were piled high, representing the sugar content in each brand of juice. At first, the children didn’t know what to make of it, but soon they were discussing which brands they knew best and guessing which had most sugar. Children were pretty surprised to see the amount of sugar in a typical serving of juice. Volunteers from the Health and Wellness committee spoke to children about how nutrients are better absorbed through fresh, unprocessed food, and how the sugar content of juices can be detrimental to our health and our teeth when consumed in excess.

Principal Jill McLaughlin said, "Healthy Food Day was a hit!  It was exciting to see all the children proudly displaying their favorite color apple shirts and the taste test during lunch was delicious and fun! I am largely impressed to see so many
healthy lunches and snacks packed for students, and this dialogue with children regarding healthy foods was so important! Red apples were the favorite!"

In the end red apples won by a landslide, but then again, that has been the case year after year. As the children sauntered off, volunteers sat down, and gobbled up the rest of the apples while chatting about what’s next for Health and Wellness at Nishuane.