By Stephanie Stahl


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a March Madness twist. A middle school is using the basketball tournament as a way to get students to try healthy food.

The official bracket will be released this Sunday — with the Selection Show at 6 p.m on CBS.

For one school project, produce is replacing team selections.

Will the defending champs, the Villanova Wildcats, be able to do it again? Heading into the NCAA Tournament, people are then picking their favorites.

But at Ring Lardner Middle School in Michigan, instead of picking basketball teams, the students are trying two healthy foods and picking their favorites.

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“On one half of the bracket, we have fruit and the other half is vegetables, and by the end of March, we’ll have one fruit and one vegetable left standing,” assistant principal Evan Winkler said.

“It’s really fun to be able to go up and try different foods every day,” seventh-graders Annabelle Johnson said.

Students are venturing out of their comfort zones and trying vegetables like peas and spinach during their lunchtime. The school is putting a twist on March Madness.

“I think I’m going to vote for spinach because I’ve never had it before,” Johnson said.

After the students try the fruits and vegetables, they vote for their favorite.

“I think that it’s pretty cool that kids can try things they’ve never tried before,” Johnson said.

The students get excited to see which food wins, just like fans get excited to see what teams advance in the tournament.

“I know when they’re voting I’m like, ‘Vote for me because I’m tallying raspberries or I’m tallying oranges.’ I think that makes people want their favorite to win,” seventh-grader Amelia Florkawski said.

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The school will continue the challenge through the end of the month. It also plans to implement different fruits and vegetables into the students’ lunches.

“Hopefully, they’ll go home and say, “Hey mom and dad, I tried spinach today. It was awesome. Can we go to the store and buy that?’ And maybe they’ll have that rather than eat chips,” Winkler said.

The assistant principal hopes students end up making permanent changes in their diets to include more produce.

Stephanie Stahl