The vote was clear: Healthy granola and fruit smoothies were a hit.
Kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Division Street Elementary School and students at Saratoga Springs High School got to try an alternative to cafeteria snacks, courtesy of Skidmore College professor Paul Arciero’s principles of nutrition class.
The college students served homemade granola to about 300 to 400 elementary students and smoothies to about 800 high schoolers Wednesday as part of the American Heart Association’s National Eating Healthy Day.
Students worked late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning making the granola from scratch by taking oatmeal, and mixing it with different ingredients such as banana chips, dried apples and pieces of dark chocolate.
Arciero said the students were inquisitive and willing — and in some cases, eager — to sample the health food options. The children thought the granola was “yummy.”
“When they got up to dispose of their food trays, they would literally throw out everything else on their tray with the exception of the granola,” he said.
The smoothies were also popular, according to Arciero. “Most of the high school kids sucked that down pretty quick,” he said.
Skidmore sophomore Andrew Connard, 20, an exercise science and international affairs double major from Maine, said there were three different kinds of
smoothies. One was a basic fruit smoothie with pomegranate juice, blueberries, honey and mango. Another one was with rice milk and sunflower butter, blueberries, bananas and honey. A third one used cow’s milk with peanut butter, blueberries, honey and sunflower butter.
The fruit smoothie was by far the biggest hit and the one they ran out of the soonest. The other two were more exotic. “People didn’t quite know what to make of them because they had never seen a smoothie with peanut butter or sunflower butter in it,” Connard said.
Connard said students liked having an alternative to school meals.
“It just showed a cool way to bring some tasty options into young people’s diet,” he said.
Christian Tian, a Skidmore junior exercise science major from Ohio, said students were excited to try something new.
“Students were interested in learning the recipe so they could go home and make it on their own,” she said.
The college students also handed out literature explaining the importance of healthy eating and exercise, which go hand in hand, according to Tian.
There is a chance that this current generation could be one of the first that doesn’t outlive the generation before it — because of their unhealthy habits. “It’s so important that they change their lifestyle now,” she said.
Saratoga Springs school officials were excited about the partnership with Skidmore.
“Division Street Elementary School is proud of its commitment to teaching our students about good health, nutrition, and exercise,” said Greer E. Miller, principal, in a news release. “It’s wonderful that the Skidmore students are coming to reinforce the healthy eating message to our students.”
Arciero serves as an advisory board member of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region and thought this would be a perfect opportunity for his students.
“They were very excited to get out of the classroom and put into practice what they’re learning,” Arciero said.