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Counting down to the Great Big Crunch 1:03

Students across Hamilton are making a loud statement about healthy eating — by taking a synchronized bite into locally grown apples on Thursday.

More than 22,800 students from dozens of schools are participating in the Great Big Crunch, a special day of food education as part of Nutrition Month in March.

Gathered in classrooms, gymnasiums or hallways, each student is handed an apple and, after a countdown, bites into the apple simultaneously. 

At Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Elementary School in downtown Hamilton Thursday afternoon, a loud groan could be heard on the hallway when a teacher announced that the countdown to the Big Great Crunch was rescheduled from 12:45 p.m to 12:59 p.m.

Two dozen Grade 5 students at Ms. Sofia Mattachini's class could hardly wait, clenching the apples in their fists while keeping an eye on the clock.

When the announcement finally began on the PA system, the kids joined in countdown, then came the crisp crunchy sound. 

Tastebuds, Hamilton's student nutrition initiative, supplied the apples — a whopping 6,965 pounds of them. The apples were purchased from local farmers in Ancaster and Stoney Creek and were delivered to each school by THAAT Co-op, a local emission-free delivery service. 

The mass snacking was first started in Toronto in 2006 by FoodShare Toronto. Since then, almost 500,000 people across Canada have participated in the activity. 

Farmers, nutritionists and other food experts will also be speaking at different schools to spread the message.