Harvet of the Month: Popular School Program Returns | SierraSun.com

Harvet of the Month: Popular School Program Returns

Maria Martin, MPH, RD

Local elementary schools are gearing up to begin the Harvest of the Month Program again this school year. Harvest of the Month brings fresh fruits and vegetables into the classroom and teaches nutrition and healthy eating by having children taste and explore these foods.

Last year, we had an average of 55 classes and over 1100 students per month participating in the program, and this year, we already have 77 classrooms signed up and eager to begin! Feedback and evaluations from last year overwhelmingly support continuing the Harvest of the Month program, but we need your help to keep it going! You can support this fun, engaging, and effective program with your time, a monetary donation, or both.

We are bombarded daily with images and messages intended to influence what we eat. Unfortunately we don’t see advertisements or marketing programs persuading us to eat more seasonal produce and neither do our children. In the age of fast food, prepackaged processed meals, and rising obesity rates it is important that we help children gain an appreciation for whole foods and good nutrition. It is truly refreshing to see children asking for more fruits and vegetables. We rarely have leftovers from our tastings and teachers and volunteers are amazed by the children’s enthusiasm and interest.

We have learned that exploring and tasting fruits and vegetables is not only a great way to teach about nutrition, but also often results in children trying new foods and discovering they may even like them.

Our volunteers have discovered that participating in this program is fun and rewarding. They are surprised to see how excited and adventurous the children are with the foods; especially since they know from experience many of these foods are often refused at the dinner table at home.

If you get a warm feeling just thinking about kids enjoying fruits and vegetables, we can use your help! Classes need a volunteer who can commit to about 30 minutes a month for eight months (October to May). We also need financial assistance to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables. The cost to sponsor a class for the entire school year is only $128, although any amount that you can donate is helpful.

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Look in the Sierra Sun for a monthly article highlighting the produce we are tasting in the classroom and try the recipe contributed by a local chef. We all benefit from eating more seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables!

Harvest of the Month Volunteer Trainings are being held on Oct. 6 in Tahoe City and Oct. 8 in Truckee. For more information on volunteering or class sponsorship, please contact: Maria Martin at 587-3769, ext. 228 or mmartin@tfhd.com.

” Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Wellness Dietitian. The Nutrition Coalition is funded and supported by the Tahoe Forest Health System through the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. For more information, contact us at 587-3769, ext 228 or mmartin@tfhd.com.