Children enjoy fresh Ontario-grown apples at FoodShare's Great Big Crunch

Nutrition awareness arrives with a crunch

Students bite into apples to launch nutrition month

Meredith Hayes was riding home from work on the subway when the idea struck her.

“I bit into an apple and everybody kind of stopped and looked at me,” she said. “I realized it was actually pretty loud.… All eyes were on this crunchy, loud woman.”

The impact of the moment helped Hayes, FoodShare’s schools and nutrition manager, conceive of a way to draw a lot of attention to her program.

At precisely 2:30 p.m. on March 12, students, musicians, volunteers and guests gathered in the gymnasium at Our Lady Fatima Catholic School, in Scarborough, to bite into Ontario-grown apples.

”(We tried) to make the biggest crunch we could,” Hayes said.

FoodShare’s Great Big Crunch program kicked off nutrition month with more than 130,000 students registered online to participate in the city’s eighth annual synchronized apple crunch. The event promotes food literacy and highlights the year-round availability of Ontario apples and vegetables.

Alyssa D’Angelo is a core French teacher at Our Lady of Fatima and strongly supports the point made by the Great Big Crunch event.

“We strongly believe in healthy living and the importance of promoting nutrition for our students,” D’Angelo said. “Participating in the Great Big Crunch allowed our students to enjoy healthy food … and appreciate all the hard work our Ontario farmers do to keep us healthy.”

Katie German is a senior co-ordinator at FoodShare. She and her team try to promote food literacy and help schools obtain affordable local produce. and ensuring they have the resources needed to be successful.

“We also offer educator training,” German said. “Teachers who are interested in doing more can come be trained and take that information back to their school and their community.”

In another FoodShare event, Grade 2 and 3 students gathered at the FoodShare location (at Bloor and Brock streets) for a concert and participatory activities to highlight food literacy. Activities included making healthy snacks, worm composting and learning about nature connections such as birdcalls. Apple farmer, Don Werden and MPP Cristina Martins demonstrated their Great Big Crunch technique by biting into fresh apples.