Program aims to teach healthy eating habits to Lake Tahoe Unified School District students |

Program aims to teach healthy eating habits to Lake Tahoe Unified School District students

The Harvest of the Month program aims to teach children healthy eating habits.
Provided / Barton Health

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A statewide initiative that motivates students to make healthier choices by bringing fresh, in season produce to local schools has made its way to South Shore.

The program, known as Harvest of the Month, is in South Lake Tahoe thanks to a partnership between he UC Cooperative Extension CalFresh nutrition education program, Barton Health and Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

“We are excited to team up with Barton Health and Lake Tahoe Unified School District on Harvest of the Month,” Hector Ochoa, the UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra CalFresh Nutrition Education program manager, said in a press release. “This program gives our students a variety of hands-on opportunities to explore, taste, and learn about the importance of healthy eating and being active every day.”

For Harvest of the Month, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s food services staff choose one fruit or vegetable to highlight each month on the school lunch menu. Octobers’s item is radishes. Each fruit or vegetable is in season, California grown, and cost effective, according to Barton.

In the same month, the school district hosts a schoolwide tasting where all students sample the selected produce item and vote on whether they would like to see it on the menu again.

Also aligned with the fruit or vegetable of the month are instructional materials that teachers can use to teach their students about the selected produce item and ways to stay active. This enables classroom lessons to be reinforced in the lunchroom and encourages student participation in healthy habits.

Most students are not eating the fruits and vegetables they need. California’s public health research shows that less than one third of students are getting the recommended amount of fruit and less than one tenth of students are getting the recommended number of vegetables.

Obesity is on the rise, which can have long term consequences, including Type II diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

“Harvest of the Month is more than just telling children to eat more fruits and vegetables or be more active,” Natasha Schue, Barton Health’s community outreach coordinator, said in a press release. “We are instilling in our youngest students healthy habits they will have for a lifetime. This helps improve their health as well as the health of our community.”

All elementary schools — Bijou Community School, Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School, Sierra House Elementary School, and Tahoe Valley Elementary School — have been participating in Harvest of the Month.

Harvest of the Month is a nutrition initiative developed with funding from the USDA SNAP, known in California as CalFresh, which provides assistance to low-income households and can help buy nutritious foods for better health. For CalFresh information, call 877-847-3663.

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