Last week, I volunteered in my daughter's 4th grade classroom presenting the health benefits of kiwi as part of Harvest of the Month. For those of you who aren't familiar with Harvest of the Month, it's a public health nutrition initiative designed to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption among children. The produce of the month is introduced to children in a variety of ways and accompanied by a historical and nutritional overview. It's educational, tasty, and fun!
At Montair Elementary, Harvest of the Month was started in 2014 by Robin Clark, a mom, physician's assistant and child health advocate extraordinaire. In the early days, it began with just a few classrooms participating. Fast forward to today and the whole school participates.
When we introduce the fruit or vegetable of the month, we offer it to children both fresh and cooked. For example, this month I made kiwi muffins, kiwi salsa, and strawberry kiwi smoothies. The latter was wildly popular with the kids (see recipe below)! While these recipes make kiwi highly palatable, Robin feels it's important to have kids taste the produce in it's natural state. Ultimately, they're more likely to encounter kiwi in a fruit salad than in a muffin!
Are you interested in bringing the Harvest of the Month program to your school? Robin has graciously created a website for Montair that can get you started. You can also download lesson plans from the California Department of Public Health's Harvest of the Month site. Harvest of the month requires a few dedicated parent volunteers willing to commit to a monthly lesson.
I'd like to think that the day ended with a few more kiwi fans than it started with, but ultimately, it is the exposure that matters. According to dietitian and family therapist Ellyn Satter, it could take 15-20 times of introducing a food before a child tries it, and that's ok.
Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie
1 bananas, frozen
2 cups frozen strawberries
2 whole kiwis, peeled
3/4 cup greek yogurt (plain, full-fat)
Blend all ingredients until smooth.