BY SHERI TRUSTY
As kids poured into the Bataan Memorial Intermediate School cafeteria for breakfast on Wednesday, March 8, the same question was heard over and over: “What is that?”
“That” was a brand-new, bright red salad bar that will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to students in grades 3-5. The salad bar was purchased through a collaborative effort between Port Clinton Schools Director of Food Services Pam Bacon and OSU Extension SNAP-Ed Program Assistant Brenda Brahier.
Bacon and Brahier unveiled the salad bar to students as part of National School Breakfast Week.
“It’s to encourage kids to eat healthy vegetables and try new things,” Brahier said. “We thought a salad bar would be a way to introduce new vegetables to the intermediate level.”
The salad bar will be an extra choice at lunchtime.
“They’ll still go through the lunch line first, to make sure they get all the components of a meal. Then they’ll come to the salad bar,” Bacon said.
The salad bar was another way Bacon and Brahier have teamed up to create a healthy eating atmosphere at the schools. Last year, with an abundance of generous help, they fulfilled a longtime dream to plant a school garden.
“Brenda and I had been talking about having a garden at Bataan. It would be a great educational
experience for the kids and an opportunity for kids to eat fresh vegetables,” Bacon said.
COVID delayed their plans until last year, when their garden dream was made a reality with the help of Port Clinton High School senior Owen Auxter, who obtained grant money and built eight raised beds as his Eagle Scout project.
“Brenda also helped us get grant money,” Bacon said. “Brenda has been phenomenal.”
Once the garden was built, it was maintained with the volunteer assistance of Port Clinton High School Leadership Council, the school’s BEACON class, Amanda Spears’ class and Magruder Hospital staff members.
“Spears’ class monitored the garden and charted what we harvested,” Bacon said. “It was a great experience for them.”
Under all that care, the garden flourished.
“Last summer, we had so much, we froze a lot of it,” Bacon said. “We got a little creative with it, as well. We even froze tomatoes and used them in our chili.”
This year, Brahier helped the school obtain an additional $1,500 for the salad bar with a Policy, System and Environmental Change grant through SNAP. Bacon is already making preparations for this year’s garden that will provide fresh produce for the schools’ students.
“I would love to have a garden every year,” she said.