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Fruit smoothies were not a staple of Dartagnan Shaw’s diet until a smoothie and yogurt parfait bar debuted in York High School’s cafeteria last month.
The junior said he now picks up a smoothie every day for lunch.
“I thought it was a new, healthy way to eat food and it seemed a lot more organic than anything else,” Shaw said.
Students like Shaw exemplify the goal of the York County School Division’s new grant-funded smoothie bars – to make it easier for students to make smart, healthy choices.
“We’re trying to take the current concepts, the “in” concepts and bring them into the high school,” YCSD Food Service Director Michelle Knotts said. “Little do they know it’s disguised as a very healthy, nutritious meal option.”
The school division was awarded a $27,384 Fuel Up to Play 60 grant from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association in February. The funds were used to purchase eight bar carts with inserts to keep smoothies and parfaits cold, blenders, burr mixers and signage to promote the cart.
York High School hosted the “soft opening” of the initiative. Carts will also roll out at Bruton, Grafton and Tabb high schools and at Grafton, Queens Lake, Tabb and Yorktown middle schools.
The carts will feature smoothies and yogurt parfaits as well as whole fruit. Students can purchase a smoothie or parfait plus fruit and milk for one price, but the smoothie or parfait alone counts as a complete meal, as it contains three of the five food groups, Knotts said.
“By doing the parfait and the smoothie, we have targeted fruit, yogurt for dairy and granola for the grain component,” she said. “The key here to this offering was that we needed to develop a recipe to where this smoothie and or parfait is a complete meal. This is not just an a-la-cart to add on to a meal.”
Knotts said she reached out to dieticians from Sodexo, the food services company that operates YCSD cafeterias, to help create recipes for the smoothies. The most popular flavors are apple-orange and strawberry-apple, which use apple sauce as the base.
The yogurt parfait includes a layer of fresh seasonal fruit. The parfaits and the smoothies are sold with granola to mix in.
Sophomore Jonathan Hoyte said he buys the yogurt parfait daily. His only criticism was the size, suggesting the parfait could be larger for the price.
“They taste good,” Hoyte said. “They’re better than the rest of the stuff here.”
Sixteen bicycles were also purchased with the grant and two will be raffled off at the eight schools, Knotts said.
The smoothie bars and the bicycles will go hand-in-hand to encourage students to make healthy choices; whenever students buy a smoothie or a yogurt parfait, they receive a raffle ticket to win one of the bicycles.
Knotts said she intends to expand the exercise portion of the initiative by distributing maps of bike trails in the Greater Williamsburg area where students can take their new wheels out for a spin.
“Energy, fresh fruit, healthy options, bicycle exercise, and here’s some maps if you want to go test them out,” Knotts said.
She said she expects the smoothie bars to remain a permanent fixture in YCSD cafeterias.