Snack and learn program feeds brains and bodies of LAUSD kids

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Summer at Los Angeles Elementary School offers a tasty lesson for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"So we are going to make a turkey veggie roll, say it with me kids, 'A turkey veggie roll,'" coached Chef Lovely.

Chef Lovely is a chef instructor for the nonprofit Common Threads who teamed up with LA's BEST to help fight the so called "summer slide." That's where children eligible for free and reduced school meals during the year often go hungry over summer break. So they offer this "small bites" program to snack and study.

Along with eating, the kids are learning the principles of nutrition which teachers hope will take them through to the school year.

"We're able to do nutrition education during the summer as well as introduce the children to a variety of nutritious, healthy snack-making activities that we hope they learn," Edith Ballesteros, director for LA's BEST.

Common Threads provides funding for the healthy food and staff education for LA's BEST which is part of "Beyond the Bell," a LAUSD after-school program. Chef Lovely, who has been with the program for seven years, says it's a start, but not without challenges.

"If a child sees an adult eating a bag of potato chips or eating those french fries, it's a little bit harder to teach these kids a healthy lifestyle and to make those choices on their own," said Lovely.

"Once kids have certain habits and their parents may not be as involved ,so my job is to make cooking fun and exciting," said Lovely.

Common Threads currently has 260 program sites in Los Angeles County expecting to reach 18,000 children this summer break.
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