Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
Seward Middle School hosted a festive, well-orchestrated afternoon event Tuesday evening welcoming Capital Brands, a national blender manufacturer that will help the school provide nutritious smoothies to 39 students in Angie Hammer’s third-grade P.E. class every morning for the next three months. The middle school was one of six schools nationwide to win a new contest by the company, for its NutriLivingUni Project. Winners get $10,000 to use to purchase organic fruits and vegetables and supplements, and 40 NutriBullet blenders and cups to make and serve them in. The school received eight blenders and 32 students received a blender to take home, and everyone got a hooded sweatshirt.
With the Seward Silvers as backdrops, and the L.A.-based company filming the kick-off event, and interviewing participants for its own PR purposes, each of the students was carefully measured, weighed, blood pressure taken, and samples were taken of their blood for testing. Their blood pressure, cholesterol and weight will be re-tested in three months to see if there are any changes. Meanwhile, students and their parents and teachers munched on croissant sandwiches, decorated their personal NutriBullet smoothie cup, and sampled these delightful fruit and vegetable concoctions.
At the “Nutri Bar” where the smoothies were prepared, the ingredients of the two drinks offered were displayed in bowls that offset their colors, making them especially appealing. They included spinach, carrots, cucumbers, bananas, strawberries, and either hemp or chia seeds as protein, mixed with a liquid, almond milk, coconut milk or water.
“It seems like it’s going to be a really fun, really healthy program,” said Allie Toloff. She already tries to eat healthy foods whenever possible. “I’m pretty good, but it probably will push me further because we get our own smoothies.”
“Oh, it’s really nice. I am looking forward to it. Very tasty,” added Walker McKnight.
“It seems really great. I’m really excited to get my NutriBullet to take home. It’s going to be really good and will let me be healthy and get more into our diet and stuff,” said Maggie Adkins.
Angel Schwertseger, whose brother is in Hammer’s third-period P.E. class, was looking forward to making smoothies with the blender at home. She’d like to help boost her body for this weekend’s wrestling tournament.
Elynn DeMattia, Capital Brands’ marketing director, called NutriBullet blender a “bigger, souped-up” version of the Magic Bullet, which has become known to many through its heavy television and online advertising. The fact that Seward Middle School was in Alaska, she said, played a small part in winning the contest, but was not the deciding factor. ”It was definitely interesting to us because we live in an urban community, and this is so rural, and the cold weather, so it definitely did play into our decision making process,” she said. “But the video created by Nurse Yoli and Carlyn, and everybody that talked about the school was really promising. To make a commitment to a program like this is not that easy. It takes a lot of work, and not everybody can do it. We felt they could.”
School nurse Yolanda Ifflander’s short video featured Carlyn Nichols’ nutrition and healthy cooking class, which includes a smoothie-making contest; and Angie Hammer’s 50-minute P.E. class, which every middle school student takes every day.
After the company first launched the blender, with its recipe book of recommended nutritious foods to use, it began receiving testimonials, mostly from the Baby Boomer generation, that it saved lives, and that users’ cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels were lowering, and their eczema was clearing up, DeMattia said. They decided to look into marketing the blender to young people, and teaching them good nutrition habits before their health issues got worse. So they tried out a similar experiment on students at the high school next door to their building, and saw similar results.
“We’d love to do it for more than one classroom, and for more than 90 days, but this is our first kind of outreach outside LA, and we’re going to try to wing it and see how this goes. We’re hoping to expand it to 75 schools our next batch and keep it going,” DeMattia said.
In accepting the prize, winners were also expected to comment about the experience on all forms of social media, and had to agree to be filmed by the company, Ifflander said.
“Word of mouth is invaluable to us as a company, and we get to meet all these cool people, and see all the smiling faces, and share the word of nutrition, and that’s pretty rewarding,”DeMattia said.