A handful of elementary and middle-school students were recently selected as finalists and winners for this year’s salad bar writing competition. The writing contest was held this year for student’s grades 2-12, sponsored by the district’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education grant. Students were given the choice to write about one or both of the following prompts:

(L-R): LCPS Nutrition Programs Manager Claire LeGault, Student Teacher Devon Vallejos, Kaitlyn Duncan, Dominic Sacca, and teacher Natalie Geiger
  • “Do you think all schools should have salad bars? Why or why not?”
  • “If you were in charge of marketing the salad bar, what slogans or images would you advertise?”
(L-R) Sunrise Elementary teacher Steve Minter, Olivia Hernandez, and Principal Dora Solis

Winners and finalists were selected from the following grade categories: 2-3, 4-5 and middle school.

Victor Luna, a third grader at White Sands Elementary School, won with his slogan, “Eating fresh veggies every day will boost your performance at play!” Victor described how he would use posters of athletes eating their favorite vegetables to motivate students. Zowie Bautista, a third grader from Monte Vista Elementary, was selected as a finalist in this category.

Two winners were selected for grades 4-5: Saydie Marquez, a fourth-grader at East Picacho Elementary School, and Olivia Hernandez, a fifth-grader at Sunrise Elementary. Saydie wrote that, if she was in charge of her school’s cafeteria, she would market it as a “super salad bar,” using photos of popular superheroes to promote healthier choices. Olivia stated the importance of having a salad bar because of the many nutrients vegetables provide. Kristen Moreno, from East Picacho Elementary, was the finalist selected for this category.

(L-R) LCPS Nutrition Programs Manager Claire LeGault, White Sands School teacher Kathleen Bowman, Victor Luna, and teacher Laurie Atteberry.

“When students are challenged to come up with ideas to help motivate their peers to make healthier choices, they’re thinking critically,” said Superintendent Greg Ewing of Las Cruces Public Schools. “The Salad Bar Writing Contest is a great way for students to have some fun coming up with ideas to promote a healthier life style. I would also like to commend all of our hard-working teachers and all of the wonderful employees in nutrition services, who inspire students to hone their writing skills while driving home the importance of healthy eating.”

In the middle school category, Dominic Sacca, a sixth-grader from Mesa Middle School, was selected the winner. Dominic wrote that schools should have a salad bar to ensure that all students have access to fresh vegetables. He encouraged healthy eating habits, and for some, the choice to try new foods. Dominic had the idea to add fruit to the salad bar with a large banner that says, “Vegetables — enough just isn’t enough.” The finalist for this category was Kaitlyn Duncan, a sixth-grader at Mesa Middle School.

(L-R) East Picacho Elementary Assistant Principal Nicole Bowen, Principal Nubia Tarazona, Saydie Marquez, Kristin Moreno, and teacher Gabriela Montes.

“We would like to thank those who encouraged students to participate in the contest, including teachers, parents and guardians,” said Claire LeGault, nutrition programs manager with Las Cruces Public Schools. “We are in the process of discussing the feedback we received from the students with our Nutrition Services Department staff and hope to implement some new ideas next year. We want everyone to enjoy and appreciate the salad bars in our cafeterias.”

This year, a total of 191 students entered the contest. The winners of the writing contest earned ten-color multi-ink pens for their classmates that said, “Eat a Rainbow at the Salad Bar!” Elementary school winners won pens for their entire school, while middle-school winners earned pens for their language arts classmates.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net