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UCCE program gets local produce into classrooms, school lunches


MODESTO, Calif. -- A University of California Cooperative Extension advisor here has made it a mission to get fresh, local food into the hands of Stanislaus County schoolchildren.



Nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Terri Spezzano has set up a farm-to-school nutrition program that includes nutrition education in the classroom, getting fresh fruit and vegetables into school meals and doing special farmers' market-type tastings after school, according to a UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources news release.



For example, during a recent farmers' market program at Cunningham Elementary School in Turlock, Calif., children selected packets with sliced and ready-to-eat green, yellow and red bell peppers, jicama, zucchini and other vegetables as well as apples, peaches, nectarines, oranges and Asian pears, the UC reported.



Working with a team of nutrition educators, Spezzano has created a classroom education series that focus on crops grown in the county and uses a newsletter to convey information about local farmers, according to the release. Fresh produce and newsletters are delivered monthly to classrooms, which taste the produce and learn about local farms.



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