At a high-energy pep rally on Friday that was equal parts rock concert and lesson on healthy living, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) launched its statewide Farm Fresh Fridays initiative in front of 500 students at Margaret B. Henderson Elementary School.
The TDA is offering the “Jump With Jill” show at no cost to select Texas schools in Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Henderson students learned a few things about respecting their bodies through healthy choices, eating breakfast, enjoying fruit (“Nature’s Candy”), snacking on the superpowers of vegetables, exercising and drinking plenty of water.
After the hour-long program, TDA Commissioner Sid Miller shed light on the ideas behind Farm Fresh Fridays. The program connects farmers and ranchers to nearby schools to provide fresh, locally grown food. The food is fresh, healthy and delicious, and helps instill healthy food choices among students. Dallas-area farmers were on hand to talk about what their operations produce, from leafy vegetables, milk and beans to fresh tamales.
Margaret Lopez, director of Dallas ISD’s Food and Child Nutrition Services, introduced each farmer, including Brandon Sides of Side Pea Farm, Neil Hoff of Neil Hoff Dairy and David and Diane Luther of Padrino Foods. Leaf Safari, an operation that started with growing hydroponic tomatoes in a college dorm room, was also a part of the lunches served Friday.
Barbara Johnson, director of Dallas ISD’s Health and PE Department, said that through the emphasis on healthy choices students should all strive to be MVPs. The M stands for move and stay active; the V encourages students to value healthy eating; and the P urges them to practice healthy habits. The motto is part of the CATCH program – Coordinated Approach to Child Health that promotes several aspects of a healthy lifestyle together.
The event ended with guests sharing lunch with students that exemplifies the typical Farm Fresh Fridays meal.