After passing middle school volunteers in pea, banana and Wheaties costumes, crisp veggies with dip and chilled wild berry bisque awaited visitors to the Nutrition Group’s annual Nutrition, Health and Safety Fair recently held at . The Nutrition Group provides food service cafeteria and vending services to East Penn School District.
Aneita Sutton, director of food service for East Penn, said the annual fair is a way for, "students to show their parents some of the food and products we have, and to learn about the lunch program."
And, she added, "we hope to inform parents, students and the community of what is out there to help them in their lives to stay healthy, safe and happy"
Tables lined the hall in front of the gym and cafeteria, some with food samples and others with literature from helping and health organizations like Turning Point, Center for Humanistic Change, Lehigh Valley Health Network and the YM/WCA.
Paul Vlasics of the Nutrition Group, not of pickle fame but Aneita Sutton’s assistant, stood at a table with Nutrition Group literature and handouts given to students in health classes. He said between all the schools in the district, the Nutrition Group does about 60 to 70 speaking engagements at East Penn schools each year.
Handouts included "Grains To Grow On" and "Vary Your Veggies," part of the iNutrition "My Choice" program used in the schools.
East Penn has strict dietary guidelines for cafeterias and vending machines through a Wellness Policy established in 2006 that limits calories, sugars, fats and sodium of foods offered. Gum, candy bars, tasty-cakes and soda are not sold in cafeterias or vending machines.
Debbie Depue staffed the Nu Vu Vending company’s table next to the school’s vending machines in the hall. She said Nu Vu is contracted by the Nutrition Group to stock the district’s vending machines, which carry baked-only products – nothing fried.
Sutton said, "We try to incorporate a new table each year to keep things exciting but this year we had to turn some new vendors away as we are limited on space."
The Nutrition, Health and Safety Fair is an idea of the management team of the Nutrition Group, and similar fairs are held in other school districts they contract with. Sutton said the East Penn fair is the largest the organization conducts. This is the 13th fair for the district and it usually draws 800 to 1,000 people over five hours.
Based in Irwin, Pa., the Nutrition Group provides cafeteria and vending services to more than 130 school districts in Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. East Penn School District has contracted with the Nutrition Group since 1998.