ELYRIA — Youngsters at Oakwood Elementary School squirmed with disgust as they were handed a cup of green smoothie.
“I don’t like spinach,” one 10-year-old child said.
“Just try it,” responded Elyria Schools board member Evelyn France. “You can’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it.”
A quick drink, and the child discovered he liked the spinach-based concoction.
“It was so good,” said 10-year-old Eric Little. “I didn’t like spinach before, but I do now. I can drink it.”
The smoothie, made from a simple recipe of vanilla Greek yogurt, green grapes, pineapples and spinach, was offered to students Thursday during a wellness fair hosted by Sodexo Inc. at the Elyria elementary school.
From lessons on nutrition and gardening to combating bullies and personal hygiene, the wellness fair gave the students information that could result in healthier lives.
“In everything we do, we are constantly asking how we can educate them in ways that have a lasting impact on their lives,” said Richard Hill, Sodexo vice president of strategic marketing.
Nearby in the school gymnasium, students learned how to plant beans, pack fruits and vegetables on a nutritional plate, and how fatty foods can harm a body.
Sodexo is developing a wellness program for all of the 2,500 elementary schools its serves across the country. Oakwood served as the main pilot site for the program that company officials hope will reach hundreds of other schools in the fall. It is part of Sodexo’s commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America organized by first lady Michelle Obama.
“Elyria is ground-zero for what we are trying to do,” said Bart Ruff, national senior marketing manager with Sodexo. “We have been a part of the district for more than 20 years and love the approach they have to being innovative.”
Like using a smoothie to teach kids how to consume spinach.
Eric, a fourth-grader who sported a bright green smoothie mustache after downing four samples of the drink, did his best to remember the ingredients. His plan is to tell his mother to make the smoothie for him at home.
Maddison Lago said she would do the same.
“I’m going to say, ‘Can I have a green sundae?’” she said, mistaking the drink for a dessert.
Maddison, 10, said she enjoys spinach in a salad with ranch dressing.
“I play outside and eat my veggies,” she said.