How Ventura County nonprofit SEEAG makes nutrition lessons fun
Source: Ventura County Star
Author: Mo Jazi
Rolling out a message of good nutrition through locally grown crops, a local nonprofit debuted a mobile classroom in Ventura.
When Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture’s 30-foot Farm Fresh van came to Mound Elementary on Friday, the kids got to learn while having some fun, too.
The message included healthy eating, proper nutrition and daily exercise, said Mary Maranville, founder and CEO of SEEAG, a nonprofit that educates youths about the origins of their food from field to table and its contribution to nutritional well-being.
More than 50 students gathered Friday outside their school to see what the van had to offer. Among the activities, they played a game of guessing a fruit or vegetable-based on clues from their classmates.
Third-grader Maddie Mowad was among the kids drawn to the fruits and vegetables laid out in front of them.
“I thought it was creative because they were talking about vegetables in a fun way,” Maddie said.
Classmate Aaryaman Khadka was also interested in the produce.
“I think it was exciting and fun to learn about agriculture,” Aaryaman said. “I’d like to work as a farmer.”
Shortly after that, five kids were paired with adults to compete in a Junior Master Chef battle. The competition had kids in the audience roaring, encouraging their friends and waiting to see who would win.
The winning team’s salad was decorated with five or more stalks of celery, lettuce, strawberries and other items. The pair received certificates.
School Principal Todd Tyner said that since Mound is a science magnet school, one focus is agriculture.
The school has gardens for the kids, with the fruits and vegetables grown there going to families in need.
Growing up in a multigenerational farming family in upstate New York, Maranville said an agricultural educational field trip led her to establish SEEAG in 2008.
She wanted the program to teach about the journey of food.
“We really concentrated on the agricultural side and not on the nutrition side,” Maranville said. “To have a really comprehensive program that came full circle, I realized that we had to talk not only about the crops growing in our backyards in Ventura County, but we should also talk about their nutritional values.”
“These kids are the ones that need to know how to eat healthy and well,” she said. “We will also be giving them free produce.”