Grow the World You Want to See: Inspire Kids to Love Real Food

December 11, 2015

Like you, we at CUESA want to see a world nourished by fresh, nutritious food, where all kids have access to fruits and vegetables and are able to get the healthy start in life they deserve. How does your donation to CUESA realize that vision? Throughout December, we’re sharing real stories from our community that show the impact of your donations to CUESA.

Bonnie Tse of Gordon J. Lau Elementary School was one of the first teachers to bring her students to participate in CUESA’s Foodwise Kids program, a free farmers market field trip and cooking class for San Francisco public school students. Through these field trips, CUESA inspires thousands of kids to love fresh fruits and vegetables, making it an invaluable resource for teachers like Bonnie.

Now a Nutrition Teacher Leader, she supports other teachers in implementing the school district’s health education curriculum, and continues to be a great advocate for Foodwise Kids. Bonnie talked with us about the positive impact this program has had on Gordon J. Lau’s students, as well as her own daughter and son.

Were We Going to Get In?

We heard about Foodwise Kids through the nutrition program for SFUSD and rushed to get a spot right away, because when it started it was just one class once a week. Since then, Foodwise Kids has grown to twice a day, two times a week. So now instead of just one or two lucky classrooms in our school getting in, more of our classes have been able to get a spot. 

At Gordon J. Lau, many of our students are first-generation or newcomers, so there’s a very high population of English language learners. Unhealthy snacks are widely available in our Chinatown community, so we’re trying to find ways to infuse fresh produce into our students’ daily routine so that they can choose wisely. Most of our students haven’t been to the farmers market before, and they might not shop with their parents. On the farmers market field trip, they’re the ones shopping, so it puts them in a role where they make decisions on their own.

Turning “Yuck” into “Yum”

Elementary school is a really great time to get kids to try more produce. The students who have been through the program before are excited and more willing to try new foods. The ones who haven’t might say, “This is yucky,” or, “I’m not going to try that.” But it’s about exposure. When they have more exposure to new things, they just respond very differently. It’s a great way to open up doors for them to try new foods and celebrate them.

Foodwise Kids goes hand in hand with the work I’m doing as a nutrition educator. We introduce fruits and vegetables in the classroom, then when the students go to the farmers market, they get really excited. A couple months ago we tried sweet peppers at our school. Then when the students went to the farmers market and saw purple and red ones, they were so eager to try them. You would think it was a candy store! I’ve never seen children get so excited about produce. It’s amazing to watch.

Taking Food Lessons Home

Both of my children have been on the Foodwise Kids field trip. One time at home we had a power outage, and my daughter got some hummus and crackers, and she made herself and her brother a little snack.  I thought, “These are the things we have done in the classroom and at the farmers market.” They’re learning to grab something healthy, instead of going to the corner store to grab cookies or chips.

I love to see that Foodwise Kids is growing, but I would love for more children to have the chance to attend. It would be great for teachers and parents to have more opportunities to continue the experience with students through summer and weekend classes. We’re hungry for more!

Donating to Foodwise Kids, you’re basically growing our future eaters, and that investment is going to come back to us 10 times over. This is probably the most exciting trip in my entire teaching career. The students will always remember this.

CUESA needs your help to support teachers and parents like Bonnie in growing the next generation of healthy eaters. Make a tax-deductible donation today.

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