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April 3, 2012 / HandsOnCorps

Don’t Forget your Fruits and Veggies!

One of the committees that I’ve become involved in here in the local community is a group that is putting on a community-wide fitness event in April.  Their hope is that it will draw attention to health issues and will get people excited about fitness. As one of their lead-up activities to this event, they wanted to have a vegetable tasting event at local elementary schools.  As part of my VISTA assignment, I work with the Bonner Program here at Washington & Lee.  One of my big tasks is working with smaller groups within the program called Impact Area Groups.  These groups are small student led groups that educate themselves about a specific issue that they think is important and work to make an impact on that issue through an informational event in the fall and an action event in the spring.  One group is focused on childhood nutrition, and since this project matched up so well with their interests, I worked to get the group set up to take on this project.

We have student volunteers going into each of the four local county schools to serve fruits and vegetables at lunch time.  In order to make it more enticing to the kids, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables (Cherry tomatoes, carrots, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, blueberries and grapes) and for each color that they eat, they then get a bead to put on a bracelet.   If they try everything, they end up with a full rainbow.

So far, it’s been done at two  elementary schools and has been fairly successful.  Some students only took the vegetables that they knew they liked, but others were willing to try them all in order to get all of the colors on their bracelet.  It sounds like something so simple, but the kids leave lunch and continuing talking about it.  A staff member came back last week to tell us that she had heard several students talking about the vegetables they’d eaten.

It’s also been a good project for the students in the Bonner program.  They start off in the program by doing mostly direct service, but as they grow, the hope is that they will begin to move towards service that is more indirect, that they will begin to do more capacity building work.  This project definitely has a direct component, but it also involves recruiting volunteers, as well as a good deal of behind the scene communication with the schools.  I was there to help with this work, but one student in particular took it and did a marvelous job with it.

It’s one of those projects that captures everything that my VISTA position involves. I work with both The Campus Kitchen at Washington & Lee and the Bonner Program, and while they relate, there are definitely days that I feel like I’m trying to accomplish 25 entirely different things.  This project involves Campus Kitchen volunteers (They cut and process the produce that we use at a cooking shift) as well as students in the Bonner Program, and it’s something that is connected with a larger project within the community.

Stephany Furlong

HandsOn Corps VISTA, Campus Kitchen

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