Sherman Jenkins was all smiles as he enjoyed lunch Wednesday at Goodyear Elementary School.
On the student’s plate were the usual — chicken, fruit, milk — but there was a new addition to the menu Wednesday that excited many students.
The school added sweet potato fries to the lunch menu this week after taste-testing the new side dish among the student body.
Last year, Goodyear Elementary earned the Georgia Shape Grant from the Georgia Department of Health. The school expanded the grant this year to provide for nutrition and physical activity education for students.
The money has been used to expand the school’s garden and will soon be used to build a walking track on the school’s property, said Tiffany Lankford, the nurse at Goodyear Elementary and one of the overseers of the Georgia Shape Grant.
“About half of the grant is going to go to encouraging garden activities, getting more kids involved in the garden, and doing more nutrition activities,” Lankford said. “And the other half, we’re going to put a walking track for the kids out on the playground and encourage physical activity.”
Students have been growing sweet potatoes in the garden, Lankford said, and a goal of the grant is to improve the school’s lunch menu with healthier options.
On Wednesday, the school unveiled the new menu option and added sweet potato fries to the list of side options.
“We’re very excited that Goodyear has made a positive impact on school nutrition,” Lankford said. “As we know, sweet potato fries are much more nutritious than regular fries — they have Vitamin A, which is really good for your brain. And they’re not coated or seasoned with anything. They’re just pure sweet potato fries. They’re baked, not fried.”
The school hopes to install the walking track before the end of the semester, Lankford said.
And adding sweet potato fries to the lunch menu at all elementary schools is a big success for the grant, she said.
“That’s huge for our grant program, because that’s part of the goal — to male positive menu changes,” she said.