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Judy with her class motto “Eat Smart, Play Hard, Drink Water…Not Soda”

By Judy Halterman and Joy Paterson

“Eat Smart, Play Hard, Drink Water, Not Soda” is a motto that most K and 1st graders who attended Yerington Elementary School or 2nd and 3rd graders at Smith Valley Elementary School last year know by heart. Veggies for Kids is a funded State of Nevada SNAP-ed program designed to teach kids about proper nutrition and exercise. Judy Halterman has been working with Yerington and Smith Valley youth teaching them how to grow and eat veggies and fruit using demonstration gardens, twelve weeks of in-school instruction and hosts a healthy lifestyle summer institute. Kids learn through direct instruction (lecture), food tastings, worksheets, games, problem solving, questioning techniques, and vegetable growing experiences.

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Judy picks her golden beets from the hoop house







The Veggies for Kids program was created and piloted by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in 2005 by Mineral County Cooperative Extension, and has been implemented at Hawthorne Elementary School and Schurz Elementary School in Mineral County, Natchez Elementary School in Washoe County, and Owyhee Elementary School in Elko County. Last year the program was expanded to include Smith Valley Elementary School and Yerington Elementary School in Lyon County.

Last years classes increased their ability to identify and name the five food groups and six vegetables. Kids learned the importance of playing hard for at least 60 minutes everyday to increase physical well-being. Drinking water to stay hydrated was emphasized with lessons comparing water to sugary drinks. Eating fun new fruits and vegetables was an exciting part, with kids declaring “What are we going to have for snack today Mrs. Halterman?” This led to an increased

Judy's garden favorite, red noodle beans

Judy’s garden favorite, red noodle beans

willingness to try and consume more fruits and vegetables. Vick Williams assisted Judy in educating the youth about Native American culture including food, building materials and clothing while using story-telling to engage them. The students were also able to sample buck berries, pine nuts, and asparagus.  Hispanic foods lesson was also incorporated with tasting of corn tortillas, beans and cheese. The program is anticipated to continue in the 2015-2016 school year for Yerington and Smith Valley Elementary Schools.