Veggies for Kids: Educating kids about nutrition

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A local program is teaching kids about the importance of nutrition.

From growing food to playing sports, these are just a few concepts used by UNR Cooperative Extension in their Veggies for Kids program.

The goal? To get children excited about healthy eating.

The program consists of classroom lessons and a crop demonstration project.

County Educator, Staci Emm, said food access on Native American reservations and rural areas may be limited, so their goal is create and provide a positive approach to healthy eating by combining culture and outdoor activities.

"Some of our reservation schools and our rural schools, the population isn't huge," said Emm. "Sometimes the curriculum is used in those upper grades...kindergarten to fourth grade. So, we went all the way up and integrated the hoop houses, the gardening and learning where the food comes from and the kids really enjoy that."

The program has already had a huge impact on students at Schurz elementary school over the last few years.

Principal Lance West said it goes beyond just healthy eating.

"I also like that the program has been incorporating cultural aspects of our ways," explained West. "Traditional ways such a pine nut picking up in the hills and also introducing the Paiute language."

Schurz parent Bobby Sanchez said the program has his daughter eager to learn more.

"They get excited about it and whatever they learn in the program," said Sanchez, "they bring it back to their siblings at home and also to me. When they do that it actually sticks in their head and they remember what they learned because they're teaching it to someone else."

UNR Cooperative Extension wants to expand the veggies for kids program. They hope to help change the way people look at food access.

Diana Isom is a teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School.

"So I think a little more parent education would be more helpful. Another step would be expanding the gardening to reach some of the kids throughout the year," added Isom. "So they can have more access and understand the true benefits of growing your own food."

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019