Va. School Cheered for Emphasis on Healthy Food: 'No One Had a Chance to Miss Cupcakes'

By Elizabeth Harrington | October 1, 2012 | 10:31 AM EDT

A kindergarten student at Matoaka Elementary School in Williamsburg, Va., makes friends with a new vegetable on Asparagus Day. (Photo from USDA website)

( – First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating campaign is cheering a Virginia elementary school for awarding “Golden Apple Awards” to teachers and parents who are “caught being healthy.”

The “Let’s Move” blog recently highlighted Matoaka Elementary School in Williamsburg, Va., which has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for forming a “Healthy Lifestyle Committee” run by the Parent Teacher Association.

Matoaka Elementary School has a PTA “that takes student health very seriously,” read the post, written by Sally Jacober-Brown, a public affairs specialist for the USDA.  She noted that the PTA committee “is completely devoted to helping kids and families develop Healthy Lifestyles!”

The effort includes "Golden Apple Awards," which are presented to teachers and parents who are "caught being healthy."

One kindergarten teacher was awarded a Golden Apple for making the menu at a Valentine’s Day party healthier.  “It was a beautiful party, full of healthy red, white, and pink foods -- things the kids love, like strawberries and yogurt,” said Tryna Fitzpatrick, a PTA mom who chairs the committee.

“The kids had a great time,” she said.  “No one had a chance to miss cupcakes!”

The post also mentions one “thoughtful” parent who received a Golden Apple for organizing an after-school exercise program for school staff as a way to “thank hard-working teachers.”

“In the fall and spring, kindergarten students plant vegetables, harvest them, and enjoy a salad party,” the blog said.  “School families care for the garden over the summer, one week at a time. Small efforts have continued to grow.”

The PTA also has partnered with a local farm that provides food for school meals.  “So far, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus have all been popular offerings. Locally grown red potatoes are next up on the menu this year,” the blog said.

Kale chips. (Photo: Starr)

“Once there was bad weather, and the vegetable the cafeteria staff had planned to use wasn’t available,” the post added.  “[The farm] was able to provide them with kale instead. The cafeteria staff made crunchy kale chips, which the kids loved!”

Fitzpatrick is quoted as saying that personal experience shows how “working together can produce great things!”

The blog urges readers to “Find out how you can help introduce more fruits and veggies to schools in your area” by visiting the Healthier School Day website.