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March 23. 2013 9:36PM

Seabrook students learn healthy eating having fun with fruit

SEABROOK - There may have still been snow on the lawn, but inside Seabrook's school cafeteria, there was the tropical splendor of a Hawaiian luau cuisine.

The meal was not just a harbinger of the coming of spring, said Seabrook Middle School Principal Les Shepard. It's a delightful exercise by the school's food service department to show kids, and adults as well, the fun that can come from nutritious eating.

Yesterday, Seabrook school's food service personnel outdid themselves, creating a dessert buffet filled with an amazing array of chocolate-covered strawberries, fruit custard cups, and slices of every kind of fruit imaginable, such as fresh pineapples, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, papaya, melons and more.

"We like to have these events for the children so they can understand that healthy food isn't boring, but it's festive, fun and really delicious," said Food Service Director Chef Kimberly Adkins. "For example, we have strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, which is full of lovely antioxidants.

"We're trying to show them that less can be more."

Schools now take seriously their role in augmenting students' diet, Adkins said. For example, the Seabrook Elementary School is the recipient of a grant that provides funds to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for students.

"We deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to every classroom in the elementary school every day," Adkins said. "And the money comes from the grant, not from the taxpayers."

The luau is a combined effort to celebrate good eats, Adkins said. Teachers get involved, the school's custodial staff works to turn the cafe into a tropical paradise, and even Assistant Principal Bryan Belanger volunteered to act as the DJ.

Since early morning, the kitchen staff - Jennifer Houben, Terry Chase, Sandy Clark, Holly Bragg, Jessica Cross and Alannah Nelson - were cooking, slicing and arranging the magnificent buffet, all with the students' good in mind, Adkins said.

And school Chef Michael Jacobs was proud to show off the luau's side dishes and entrees. On the steam table were pineapple-laced fried rice, a colorful mixed vegetable combo, and two different kinds of skewered meat, teriyaki chicken and pineapple chicken.

"School meals have changed a lot from what you remember," Jacobs said.

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