Students at St. Joseph Immaculate Heart of Mary School faced their food fears last week as they were challenged to eat their vegetables. The "Fear Factor"-styled challenge was a reward for eating right.
The program was the brain-child of fifth-grade teacher Dana Vlock, who is in her first year at the school.
"I started it as a combined health and science [concept]," Vlock said.
Photos special to the Town Crier
St. Joseph Immaculate Heart of Mary School fifth-grader Noah Kramer faces the brussels sprout challenge as he has a little fun while learning good nutrition.
In science, the students are studying the body and how eating right helps maintain good health. In health studies, the focus is on eating right and things that are good for the body. By combining the two, Vlock hopes to encourage a healthier habit in her students.
The program has students marking an x on a chart every time they eat a fruit or vegetable at lunch. At the end of the month, they accumulate the x's and are eligible to take part in a reward challenge. Last week, it was the "Fear Factor" challenge.
The students voluntarily put on masks and sampled different fruits and vegetables. They had to guess what each was and since Vlock's class of 12 has six girls and six boys, it was a battle of the sexes.
The second part of the challenge was to eat a fruit or vegetable that the student never tried before. One of them was pomegranate. The students had a choice of trying it or not.
"Eating it was the 'Fear Factor' challenge," Vlock said. "Some were troopers and ate everything, while others said it was not going to happen."
She said the hope was the students would find one more thing they were previously afraid of and now accepted, or even liked.
"I noticed a big difference in my students," Vlock said. "They are motivated by this program and are even swapping fruits and vegetables at lunch to get more points on the chart."
The program had one special guest last week as the school's Flat Stanley, named MaryJo, joined in the fun, including wearing a blindfold for the taste challenge.
As part of the Lumen Christi School System, SJIHM will exchange their Flat Stanley with the other nine schools in the Diocese over the coming weeks, traveling the way the paper character did in the popular children's book, "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown. MaryJo will be leaving for St. Patrick's along with the tale of the "Fear Factor" Challenge.
Vlock said at the end of each month, she will come up with different challenges to make trying new fruits and vegetables an enjoyable part of learning to eat healthier.
"We are going to make the fruit and vegetable challenge a yearlong thing," Vlock said.