Veducation: Fruit and veggie program comes to one more Kamloops school

An apple for the teacher? Great. How about for all the students too? And maybe carrots, sweet peppers, blueberries and tomatoes as well.

One more school in Kamloops is about to join a popular nutritional and education program that sees fresh B.C. fruit and vegetables delivered to students roughly twice a month.

Michelle Streek, one of the parents behind the effort to get Aberdeen elementary school in to the B.C. School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program, said her school will see its first delivery in January.

Aberdeen elementary will join 34 other SD73 schools already in the program. Across B.C., 1,266 schools take part, involving more than 409,000 students.

The program was launched by the B.C. government in 2005 as a way to educate residents and students about the quality, diversity and availability of B.C. fresh produce, as well as to encourage students to eat healthy.

Streek said she heard about the program while talking with another mother from a different Kamloops school which is already enrolled. The idea immediately caught her attention, and she started working to bring it to her school.

"It's a way to get the kids trying differing fruits and vegetables," she said.

Schools must apply to the program, she noted. To take part, school requires a parent volunteer with food safe certification, as well as the cooperation of the school's principal and at least one staff member. The school also needs a place to receive the produce, and the ability to distribute it when the time comes.

Streek said there was an application to fill out. She wasn't sure how long it would take, expecting the school might not be admitted until next September.

But word came that the school is in for January. Students at Aberdeen elementary will see about six deliveries through to the end of June.

"I'm not sure how it comes yet. I think it is pre-washed and ready to go, we just have to separate it and deliver it the classrooms," she said.

She has no idea what the first item will be, but in the past students have been given apples, pears, berries, carrots and peppers.

"We didn't know about it until now," she said. "A lot of people have not heard about it. I want our kids to know we have all these fruits and veggies that come from our area," she said, adding it will be a great way for the students to see and learn about new kinds of food, and maybe even try things they think they don't like.

"My goal is to see (my daughter) try tomatoes, and maybe learn to enjoy it."

Streek said her job as parent volunteer will be to coordinate the program, monitor the participation and fill in some reports. She already knows she will have lots of help.

"Our secretary is 100 per cent behind the program, and there are other parents involved as well. I think it will be a group effort," she said.

Tammy Watson, the provincial operations manager for the program, said the program is funded by the provincial government and administered by a not for profit society.

Every year, her agency contracts with producers in B.C. to supply the fruit and vegetables. Overwaitea and Saputo Dairy Products work with the suppliers and the schools to provide the transportation and delivery links.

She said there are no Kamloops producers involved with the program right now, although every year it seeks new producers. Regardless, many of the producers who are involved are in the Interior and the Okanagan.

Watson sad the provincial program continues to grow, with about 80 per cent of schools now involved.

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