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Honors Take a Bite out of Poor Nutrition in Philadelphia School

10/28/2010 —

A nutritious lunch, especially one that contains fresh fruits and vegetables, has an abundance of benefits for school-aged children, including jump starting a healthy lifestyle and improving focus in the classroom. So what better way to support the nutrition program of a struggling Philadelphia elementary school than to exchange apples for donations? A group of Penn State Brandywine honor students raised $400 to help John H. Taggart Elementary School purchase fresh produce at the campus’ annual fall festival, Penn State Day, as part of National Honors Service Day.

“As a future teacher, I am deeply invested in the health and well-being of today's children. To hear that an elementary school in our very own neighborhood wasn't getting any fresh produce at school was hard to hear, so I immediately got involved,” said Sara Neville, organizer of the fundraiser named “Planting a Seed.” Taggart Elementary is a public school in South Philadelphia with approximately 400 students, 82.7 percent of whom are classified as economically disadvantaged, according to the Philadelphia School District.

Honors adviser and Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Jennifer Zosh said the students’ passion and enthusiasm to ensure that healthy food is available to children was the driving force behind the fundraiser.

Left to right: Lavanya Mookerjee, Eileen Fresta, Judy Fan, Marguy Beckley-Gray, Sara Neville, Brooke Ballard

In addition to fundraising with fresh apples that were generously donated by Giant Food Store and Wolff's Apple House, both located in Delaware County, the honors students, dressed in their red embroidered shirts and hats in the shape of apples, added to the festivities of Penn State Day by providing supporters with paper apple cutouts, which were personalized and hung on a homemade apple tree.

“This is just one example of the power of Brandywine's students to truly make a difference, and I am excited to see what they come up with next,” Zosh said.  

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