By Frank Rizzo
ROSCOE Parents in Roscoe need not worry about what their kids are eating in the school’s cafeteria.
Last Wednesday, the US Department of Agriculture’s top Northeast Region school lunch official, John Magnarelli, traveled to the school to present the district with the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award.
Only two percent of schools nationwide achieved the rank, one of the department’s top nutrition awards. The Gold award comes with a $1,500 monetary prize.
RCS Principal Tammy Mangus and Superintendent John Evans cited Food Service Director Kelly Alvarez as one of the key people in the program’s success.
No stuffy bureaucrat, Magnarelli immediately announced he was from Boston and asked if there were any Patriots fans in the assembly.
Boos and jeers greeted his question several days before the Super Bowl, but there was a much better reaction when he asked who was rooting for the Giants.
“I feel sorry for you Giants fans,” he proclaimed, though, of course, he proved a poor prognosticator.
Magnarelli proceeded to talk about the upcoming big game, tying the athletic prowess and performance to good nutrition and fitness.
After noting the rare honor the district had achieved, Magnarelli said, “We recognize schools not just for nutritional, but for a healthy lifestyle point of view.
“You have to have more physical activity and physical education,” he added.
Holding the attention of the younger crowd, he exhibited a giant ear of corn which he then put on his head as a hat (he even turned it “backward” to affect a “hipper” style.)
He asked one of the elementary students to hand him a sneaker. Magnarelli then unveiled to gasps of admiration and delight his 6-foot-8 son’s size 18 sneaker for comparison. He told the captive audience that his son got to be that size thanks to healthy eating.
Magnarelli then got back on stage and formally presented the award to Superintendent Evans.
“We’re making a conscious effort to create a healthier generation of students,” Evans said after the ceremony, which had begun with the National Anthem performed by the Rosc-a-Pella group.
Among the guests were Tara Stickler and Leigh Goldman of the NYS Department of Education Child Nutrition Program and Nancy McGraw of Long Eddy, deputy director of Sullivan County Public Health.
“I am proud to be a part of helping to implement the beginnings of a countywide Farm to School program, of which your school has been a partner from the beginning planning stages, thanks to Kelly Alvarez and the cafeteria staff, and the support of the school administration,” McGraw said. “One example is our collaborative efforts to find grant funding to purchase a commercial size blender for the cafeteria, thanks to the Sullivan County Rural Health Network. Kelly and her staff were able to expand the fresh fruit smoothies, which is a hit with many students who may otherwise skip breakfast or have made a less than healthy choice.”
McGraw added, “… your efforts have made a difference in the health and future of your students and community. You are a role model for other districts in the county to follow.”
“The Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation,” read a press release. “Schools participating in the Challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity.”