NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A Manhattan school took on a nationwide challenge to get kids to eat healthier — and won an a award doing so!

The first school in New York City to receive a HealthierUS School Award is P.S. 75 on the Upper West Side. They did it by adding more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and even a water cooler.

Students admit it has been a bit of a transition.

“Some of them may not taste as good, but it’s still healthy, so can’t knock it until you try it,” 5th grader Yaritza Zaniga told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

Healthy samples also help hook the kids.

“My friend said ‘oh my God, this looks like white broccoli’ and I said ‘it’s cauliflower, try it.’ And she tried it and she was like ‘I don’t like it.’ So then, next, the carrots came around and I said ‘try it’ and then she liked them and then she started eating them a lot,” Kyla Jade Markowitz said.

Ellie Krieger is a parent and dietician. She spearheaded the fight for healthier choices. While there’s a set menu for New York City schools, they can meet with the School Food Manager and make a change.

“If you want more vegetarian options, you can sit down with the manager and order more vegetarian options. There’s a lot of play in there that you can do to customize and make your school food healthier,” Krieger said.

The lessons about healthy eating are all over the school, including an art project where students learn about nutrition, then illustrate what they’ve learned such as carrots being good for the eyes.

“We implemented a program called “Move To Improve.” So periodically through the day students get up and do some exercises because we know that they’re actually going to do better academically if they have some physical movement integrated in the course of the day,” Principal Robert O’Brien said.

The principal also doubled the number of phys. ed. periods for each student to twice a week. The hope is that the students will keep making healthier choices for a lifetime.

What do you think of the school’s achievement?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

Cindy Hsu