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Sunland : School Debuts Lesson of ‘Team Nutrition’

With fruit taste tests for children and free healthy recipes for parents, Sunland Elementary School became the Los Angeles Unified School District’s first “team nutrition school” Tuesday.

The event was marked by an appearance at the school by Ellen Haas, federal agriculture under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. The “team nutrition” designation is coveted, Haas explained, because it delineates schools that have adopted the Agriculture Department’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

As a result, Sunland will teach students to make healthy food choices for themselves by expanding the variety of foods available to youngsters and adding more fruits, vegetables and grains to the cafeteria offerings.

“This is a historic change,” Haas said. “This is the first time in 50 years that we’ve updated school nutritional standards. . . . And now we know about the links between fat, heart disease, cancer and diet.”

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Sunland is one of more than 100 schools nationwide to adopt the team approach. By school year 1996-97, all U.S. schools must meet the dietary guidelines embraced by “team nutrition schools.”

Sunland students and their parents got into the nutritional spirit by sampling star fruit and by taking radish seeds to plant at home.

In front of an organic foods display provided by Mrs. Gooch’s Whole Foods Market, parent Karline Tacderan and her son Jeffrey, 5, talked about making healthy food choices.

Tacderan said she liked the idea of “team nutrition.”

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“I think it’s great for [the children],” she said. “They get to pick their dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables. . . . It prepares them for when they feed themselves.”

Jeffrey, wearing a construction-paper headdress in honor of Thanksgiving, boasted about his eating prowess.

“I ate all my carrots,” he said.

Naturally, they were organic carrots.

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