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Joliet resident brings healthy foods to Peoria schools

Jazmin Bailon of Joliet was one of two Bradley University students to partner with Peoria Public Schools and Sodexo to bring healthy choices and interactive fun to the afterschool snack program at two local primary schools.

Bailon, a Master of Science/Dietetic Internship Program student at Bradley, worked with Sodexo during her fall internship to help strengthen the afterschool snack program at Whittier and Northmoor Primary Schools in Peoria.

Amanda Newell, Assistant Professor & Dietetic Internship Director at Bradley, said the students implemented the Fuel For Fun snack program that was created last year by other dietetics interns with oversight by Newell and Sodexo General Manager Mark Streamer.

The four-week program increased the nutrient quality of the snacks and offered a creative and interactive way to get the kids engaged in the preparation of the foods.

According to Newell, "The idea was to utilize the expertise of our interns to create and implement a program that provided more nutritious snacks, all while providing nutrition education to the kids in a fun and interactive environment," Newell said in a news release.

Instead of pre-packaged snacks, the students were given the theme and the ingredients and they made their own snacks.

For example, they offered apple nachos where students had apple slices and they were able to choose their toppings like caramel, chocolate, nuts or granola. They made fruit yogurt parfaits and spider snacks with Ritz crackers, pretzel sticks, raisins and sun butter.

During the activities, the kids were learning about some of the nutritional aspects of the foods they were preparing.

Studies show that getting kids involved and engaged in the preparation of their food increases their likelihood of trying these foods. Though the restrictions are tight for the program, namely the cost, the interns were able to add some different types of healthy foods that the kids may not have seen or tried before.

"The Bradley dietetic internship program partnership between Sodexo, Peoria Public Schools and Bradley University provides more than just an opportunity for dietetic interns to learn and experience K-12 school foodservice," Streamer said in a news release.

"The Bradley students have the opportunity to create and pilot new and innovative meal programs and services that support the achievement of Peoria Public Schools students."

The program was a success and Sodexo plans to incorporate it again next semester and potentially expand into other schools.

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