RENO, NV - Nationwide, teachers surveyed say more and more they are seeing children come to school hungry. Some of those same teachers buy their own snacks and bring them to class and hand then out. Other schools use innovative programs to not only feed children but teach them about proper nutrition. Desert Heights Elementary is one such local school.
It's snack time at Desert Heights Elementary School.
The cherries and red velvet apricots will be distributed around this 4th grade class so that each student gets a sample of just what these fruits taste like.
Along with the snacks, the students take a lesson on the fruit itself, its nutritional makeup and how it helps bodies. More times than not it's the first time these students have ever tasted the fruit or vegetable of the week.
"The peaches were sweet and soft, and fuzzy,” 4th grader Clara Welge.
Desert Heights Elementary is part of this Department of Agriculture Program along with 21 other local schools because of the percentage of students who qualify for low cost breakfasts and lunches. While the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program is educational in nature--teachers and counselors who participate agree that it can help students who don't get enough food at home.
In fact feeding children has become yet another issue more and more schools are being asked to take on.
“We know for a fact if you are hungry, you can't learn well, and we have a responsibility to meet our AYP and so we have to do what we can so to treat the whole child,” says Lauren Hon, Desert Heights Elementary.
Desert Heights has other programs designed to help kids with nutrition.
A grant from Lowes' allowed the school to build these garden beds and grow their own vegetables.
The Northern Nevada Food Bank also helps out with the backpack program--right now 95 kids participate and take this food home in hopes it can get them through the weekend.
During the first year of the fresh fruit and vegetable program 14 local schools participated.
Next year 32-schools will qualify.
Considering eligibility is based on the number of free and reduced breakfast and lunches at those schools, its apparent parents are really struggling to feed their children.