by Dennis Dalman
Students arriving at Sartell Middle School Oct. 23 were surprised to see grinning students, all in blue T-shirts, handing out big, bright oranges to all who entered the front doors.
The students were NuVal ambassadors, promoting good nutrition with the good examples of oranges, which rate a perfect 100 on the NuVal nutritional scale.
The day before, Tuesday, the same thing happened at Sartell High School.
The two events were dubbed the “NuVal Relaunch” effort, a way to remind all students and staff about the NuVal tags on items in the schools’ a la carte menu line and the vending machines. NuVal is a system that rates foods according to their nutritional value. Little NuVal tags, numbered 1-100 are placed by each food item. Oranges and broccoli, for example, rate very high while fatty or high-calorie foods, like bacon and pancake syrup, rate very low. Two years ago, the Sartell-St. Stephen School District was the second in the nation to adopt the NuVal rating system. It is not used in the regular lunch lines, however, as it’s impractical to use it based on recipes of many ingredients that go into each food entree.
The “NuVal Relaunch” featured the blue NuVal T-shirts, a series of NuVal posters and a video challenge for high-school students to create videos of from 15 to 60 seconds that promote NuVal nutrition. Winners will be announced Nov. 20.
“NuVal Relaunch” was activated by a CentraCare Health Foundation project dubbed BLEND, for “Better Living Exercise and Nutrition Daily.” BLEND is funded mainly from grants made by Medica and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Kelly Radi, program specialist for BLEND, said she is convinced as children move through grades at school into the future, they will gradually become much more nutritionally educated and thus, healthier.
“Our goal is to empower these kids to make educated choices,” Radi said. “We give them the chance to do that without telling them what to eat.”
For more information about NuVal and BLEND, go to www.blendcentralmn.org.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.