U.S. Secretary of Agriculture visits Verona school to promote healthy foods

VERONA, Wis (WMTV) -- National Farm-to-School month kicks off Tuesday, and Sugar Creek Elementary School students showed off their healthy eating habits to a special guest -- The United States Secretary of Agriculture.

Sec. Sonny Perdue got an inside look on how breakfast and lunch programs meet the needs of children. He also took a trip Eplegarden in Fitchburg to see where some of the produce comes from.

Perdue also appeared at a town hall forum Tuesday to kick off the World Dairy Expo in Madison.

Hundreds of students fill into this lunchroom daily, but today fourth and fifth graders rubbed elbows with a government official.

"I had no idea who he was, and it's cool we got to meet him," Parker Sobczak, Sugar Creek Elementary School 5th grader said.

Secretary Perdue got a first-hand look at what farm-to-school is all about.

"Normally in our lunches we always have a really healthy thing, which is good," Grace Wertz, Sugar Creek Elementary School 5th grader.

Students can choose from salad, cucumbers and kiwi, just to name a few. The food is served banquet-style so kids can take what they plan to eat.

Todd Brunner, Sugar Creek Elementary School Principal, said this way of eating did not take a lot of money, just a healthy-eating mindset.

"We do school wide walks, school wide runs. We have a no-stack policy so students aren't in a school full of donuts and cookies," Brunner said.

The food and vegetables that you see in school cafeterias are grown on farms all across Wisconsin.

"It's important for kids to know where our food comes from. We're two or three generations from relatives being on the farm these days. It's really important for kids to know what it takes to grow their healthy food," Perdue said.

In the recent climate, farming has been tough. The secretary said the United States produces more than we consume calling it a "food superpower" in the world.

“I believe the American farmer-rancher embodies the spirit of America more than anyone I know as far as hanging in there good times, tough times, and keep on keeping up and keep on getting up," Perdue said.

The secretary also spoke with food and nutrition service officials and farm-to-school partners about linking more farms to schools.