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The Times
  • School, HealthNet team to provide students with healthy choices for lunch

  • Herkimer County HealthNet has helped the Poland Central School District provide its students with healthy choices for lunch — and cold milk.

    The nonprofit HealthNet recently gave Poland a $3,500 Rural Health Network grant.

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  • Herkimer County HealthNet has helped the Poland Central School District provide its students with healthy choices for lunch — and cold milk.
    The nonprofit HealthNet recently gave Poland a $3,500 Rural Health Network grant.
    Executive Director Adam Hutchinson presented the check to Poland Food Service Supervisor Debbi Newman on Jan. 29.
    Poland and West Canada Valley received the grants, after the nonprofit’s Wellness Committee reviewed applications from across Herkimer County, Hutchinson said.
    The goal of the grants is to improve the nutrition in public school cafeterias, Hutchinson said.
    “Public schools provide kids up to two-thirds of their meals each day during the week,” he said. “It’s important that they have healthy options for those meals.”
    The Poland Central School District Food Service Department has received four grants from Herkimer County HealthNet since 2010. The most recent grant was used to purchase two new milk coolers, which are replacing coolers that were about 20 years old, Newman said. The rest of the recent grant was used to buy signage required by new federal regulations to let students know what fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins are available each day, she said.
    Previous grants helped Poland set up Fresh Express, which is a station that offers students strictly healthy choices such as salads, subs, wraps and fresh fruits and vegetables.
    Subs are served on fresh-baked, whole-grain rolls, Newman said.
    Fresh Express launched in 2010, after the first of the HealthNet grants, Newman said.
    “Without the grants, we never would have been able to start the Fresh Express line,” she said.
    The grants allowed Poland to purchase a salad bar, a salad and sandwich unit, blenders and signage for Fresh Express, Newman said.
    Before Fresh Express, the length of time students were waiting in line for lunch was a concern.
    “Creating Fresh Express gave us an additional serving line, and a place to showcase the variety of nutritional foods available every day,” Newman said.
    Poland Superintendent Laura Dutton said the district is thankful for not only the recent grant for the milk coolers, but also for the other grants that allowed for the launch of Fresh Express.
    “We appreciate the grants from Herkimer County HealthNet because our students now have more options for nutritional lunches,” Dutton said. “Food Service Supervisor Debbi Newman took the initiative with this. She and the cafeteria staff members have done a great job implementing Fresh Express and our other efforts to offer Poland students the best and healthiest lunches we can.”

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