WILLMAR -- The food service staff at Willmar Senior High doesn't seem to have trouble getting fruits and vegetables into teenagers.
Head cook Bonnie Nordmeyer said students have numerous opportunities to eat fruits and vegetables at the school. "They eat more than I ever did," she said, partly because a larger variety of produce is available than in the past.
"We always try to encourage them to eat fresh fruit," she said.
"We have a high consumption of fruit out here and more and more vegetables, too."
The school serves breakfast and lunch to students in the school, which has about 1,200 students in grades 9-12. It's Nordmeyer's first year as the Senior High's head cook, but she has been assistant head cook at the school for a number of years.
The fresh apple slices mixed with cinnamon, baked and served hot were a big hit this week, Nordmeyer said. Students enjoy the fresh pineapple served every three weeks. They liked the cooked broccoli they ate earlier in the week, too.
"We have a farm-to-school program that seems to be pretty successful," Nordmeyer said. The Willmar School District has been a leader in the state in bringing local produce into its cafeterias.
The school serves fresh greens and tomatoes from the community greenhouse on the MinnWest Technology Campus. Soon, students will be eating apples from a local orchard.
The teens seem to appreciate it when the cafeteria offers fresh whole grain bread made from locally grown wheat, Nordmeyer said.
Nordmeyer said she doesn't think it's difficult to get teenagers to eat fruits and vegetables. Younger children are more of a challenge, she added.
Even if students don't eat something the first time it's offered to them, she said, they are at least a little familiar with the food and may try it when they're older.