The apples, which are grown in New York orchards, come in sealed plastic bags with colorful graphics. Last year, the first year they were introduced, the district served about 5 million of them. The packages help Mr. Berkowitz compete with food manfacturers and fast-food companies that use elaborate packaging to make products appealing to children.But that's not good enough.
After his speech, people gathered for the conference applauded and headed to the lunchroom, where a debate about the sliced apples began. Were they a brilliant move toward getting children to eat better? Or a stumble that takes children further from healthy, whole food?
Some thought the apples smelled strange. They complained about the impact all that plastic would have on landfills. And they thought the package illustration, a tree with plastic bags growing from its branches, was appalling.
"Are we trying to teach children that this is where apples come from?" said Josh Viertel, who runs a program at Yale University that puts local, sustainable food in dorm cafeterias. "What's wrong with actual apples?"