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School introduces healthy snack program

October 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thursday's Oprah focused on dramatic weight loss, but a learning center in Santa Monica is targeting another weight-related issue: childhood obesity. The Will Rogers Learning Community unveiled an innovative snack program aimed at developing lifelong eating habits on Thursday.

"I think we need to eat more fruits and veggies because it helps your heart and your brain," said Amira Murphy, a student.

"Gets my brain moving faster and I could learn more things in my class," said Crystal Godinez, another student.

Will Rogers is one of 200 schools throughout California that will be awarded federal money to provide students with fruits and veggies all year long. The money comes from the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Program, which was expanded in this year's farm bill.

"The fresh fruit and vegetable snack program is designed to increase kids' consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. And when a school receives the funding that allows them to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and provide it as a snack, free to the kids every single day, at school," said Lorelei Disogen, United Fresh Produce Association.

Students were quick to tell Eyewitness News what their favorite fruits and vegetables were. They also said they would be eating much more of those favorites with the program in place.

Kids at the elementary school aren't only talking about good food, they're actually growing it. The kids have a garden where they grow everything from tomatoes to herbs.

"We're trying to build in life-long eating habits. I think we're so excited to have been recipients of the fresh fruit and vegetables snack program," said Irma Lyons, principal, Will Rogers Learning Community.

"One of the great benefits of this program is that the kids are doing it together. And, so often, peer pressure is negative. And, in this instance -- and specifically in my home -- the peer pressure has actually filtered onto the dinner table," said Lori Whitesell, a parent.

Federal officials say others will benefit from the Fruit and Vegetable Program next year when the program is expanded further.


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