‘Taste of Riverchase’ reveals healthy food options for students

Students at Riverchase Middle School listen to Hayden Hyatt speak about maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

Students at Riverchase Middle School listen to Hayden Hyatt speak about maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

PELHAM – Students at Riverchase Middle School learned healthy food can taste good and exercise can be fun during the “Taste of Riverchase” program on April 24.

“We’ve always done something about eating right and being healthy,” RMS Principal Susan Hyatt said. “All of this is about eating right, making good choices and being healthy.”

Hyatt said the program fulfills part of a grant the school signed up for through Action for Healthy Kids to get a special vending machine with healthy choices for students.

Hundreds of students, teachers and city leaders were invited to sample healthy food options prepared by local food vendors and the school’s Child Nutrition Program staff.

“The kids think it’s a prize,” assistant CNP manager Shannon Lombard said of the tasting. “They think it’s fun.”

Among healthy snacks and drinks the lunchroom offers under CNP guidelines are Fruit Roll-Ups, wheat brownies, Cocoa Krispies, whole grain Teddy Grahams, baked chips, water, Crystal Light and 100 percent juice.

Lombard said the healthy vending machine could offer other options like sandwiches, milk and fruit.

“There’s just a lot that’s gone into making school food meet guidelines, but to keep kids buying and satisfied,” Lombard said. “The kids have been through some changes this year.”

The program also included a presentation on the importance of exercising and a nutritious diet from Hyatt’s son, Hayden Hyatt, who is working on his doctorate in exercise science and kinesiology.

Hayden Hyatt recommended students exercise for 60 minutes a day, at least three to four days a week, and set personal four-week and eight-week fitness goals.

“Exercise is medicine,” he said. “It helps a whole list of problems we have today that we’ll have later.”

He also encouraged students to drink more water every day, eat balanced meals with fruits and vegetables, protein and whole grains and to cut out or decrease sodas and other empty-calorie drinks and snacks.

“Remember, it’s OK to fail,” he said. “If you keep pushing, keep practicing, it’s alright. The possibilities are endless.”