Harlingen students growing into healthy eaters

A recent report on Action 4 News showed alarming statistics about children with obesity so we went into a Mission elementary lunchroom and revealed their healthy changes to the menu.

Since then, there has been an overwhelming response from parents and other local school districts who encourage this new way of eating in order to save children from a lifetime of obesity related illnesses.

"We've actually been featuring fresh fruits and vegetables in our lunch room for a long time. We're ahead of the ball game as far as what other districts in the nation are doing. We believe in promoting whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables daily on our menu, said Harlingen CISD Director of Child Nutrition Judy Baker.

Harlingen schools don TMt limit their healthy foods to breakfast and lunch, Baker says before the kids go home each day, they get another beneficial dose.

"We send them a little taste test in the afternoon before they leave for the day."

Students at three schools including Bowie Elementary are enjoying Dragonfruit, Kiwono Melon, Rainbow Carrots and other unusual, but tasty treats.

"It's all about education and the importance of nutrition in one's life," said Baker.

5th grader Kiara Trevino is learning about the benefits of eating healthy by tasting and even growing her own vegetables in the 5th grade garden in the middle of campus.

"We did all the planting and digging. We planted the seeds right here and over there."

Kiara says she's learned many important lessons through the process.

"Watch out for worms and it can be fun to plant and eat vegetables. You can make a lot of great things out of them. My teacher Mr. Garcia planted an orange tree and a couple of days ago, we picked oranges and we ate them."

They are lessons that the school district hopes will last a lifetime...

"Eating vegetables makes me feel better because it gets you really excited that you're eating and doing the right thing," said Kiara.

Through a USDA grant, nearly 300 schools across the state offer their students fruits and vegetables they're not used to eating.

Harlingen CISD will continue applying for the grant each year to expand to more schools.