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'YOU MATTER' | Greenville nutrition staff uses bananas to encourage kids

Staff members at Baldwin Heights Elementary School came up with a sweet idea to bring smiles to the faces of their students.

GREENVILLE, Michigan — Inside the kitchen at Baldwin Heights Elementary School, Chelsea Kiste is on the job. It’s mid-afternoon, so the kids at school have already been fed. But there’s still plenty of planning to do, especially if she wants to top a recent gesture that melted hearts in the Greenville Public Schools district.

Kiste is the food and nutrition lead at Baldwin Heights, and she recently came up with an idea to make her school’s lunch sweeter, at least in an emotional sense.

“I was on Pinterest looking at ideas of what we can do for new ideas in the cafeteria. And I saw this, and I'm like, oh my gosh, we can do this. Something easy and simple, and the kids would love it,” Kiste said.

“We put positive affirmations on the bananas, and the kids just loved it. I mean, you should have seen their smiles and their laughing. Oh my gosh. The giggles. It was so cute.”

Written on bananas were messages like “You matter,” “Be fearless,” “Keep moving forward,” “You are beautiful,” and “Believe in yourself.” The district quickly put photos of the bananas on their social media pages and have since gotten great feedback.

“It's been nothing but positive, and people are blown away that people would take the extra time for something as just every day as a banana,” said Principal Mike Walsh.

“I was blown away, but also not surprised, because that's just the heart that [Kiste] has for these kids. I mean, you can tell just by spending just a few minutes with her that this is what her passion is.”

Walsh says he’s proud of Kiste and the rest of the food and nutrition staff. He said this gesture is just one of many positive things that happen behind the scenes at schools that people may not even know about.

“Besides teachers, there are a lot of unsung heroes in schools, whether it's bus drivers, administrative assistants, paraprofessionals [students] see on the playground, or food nutrition workers or custodial staff. All of these people touch the lives of our kids every day, and I feel like sometimes we take that for granted,” Walsh said.

Kiste hopes people who hear about her good deed will be inspired to be kind to each other. She’s already planning her next grand gesture. For the students, she says it’s worth the extra time and effort.

“You don't know what their home life is like, so if they come to school, and I can make them smile or giggle, I mean, that's what it's all about.”

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