Program teaches kids how to grow fresh produce and eat healthy

LYFORD — Fourth grade students went from the classroom to the kitchen to make their own pizza with vegetables they planted and harvested from the school garden.

“The kids weren’t receptive to putting the vegetables on their pizza at first, but once they were reminded that they grew the food, they decided to try them,” said Josephine Torres, Lyford school district communication specialist. “Some of the students wanted to try more veggies on their pizza by the end of the activity.”

Torres said the pizza was delicious to the students.

“Kids put the sauce, measured the cheese and had the option of making pepperoni, cheese or pizzas with their own toppings harvested from the garden,” Torres said.

The students are part of the Healthy Me Club. It is an after-school program that encourages students to learn how to grow fresh produce and prepare healthy meals with the food they harvest.

The program meets four times a week: twice to work in the garden and the other two days to work in the kitchen learning how to prepare the food with the produce they are growing.

The students are growing broccoli, lettuce, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, parsley, chives, cilantro and peppers.

Healthy Me Club received $10,000 in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. The money was spilt between the club for the student group and for teacher and community learning.

Healthy Me is a six-week program and students must apply to be considered. The group takes in 15 to 20 students.

“It’s become something the students are enjoying and more students want to participate,” Torres said. “We’re hoping to reach a lot more kids through the Healthy Me Club, and we’re very excited about it.”

The program took over the school community garden this year to start the new Healthy Me initiative.

“The students are encouraged to try the new vegetables that they are growing,” Torres said.