Program looks to grow a love of fruits, veggies in kids

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Throughout May, elementary aged school children around Indiana will learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables during a school presentation called ‘Find your Favorite.’ The program combines the efforts of the Indianapolis Colts, the Department of Education and The Produce Mom – the Indianapolis-based food blogger and mom of two who created the program in 2012.

“We’re encouraging children to eat more fruits and vegetables, try them all, find their favorite with support from community heroes such as Coby Fleener and (mascot) Blue from the Indianapolis Colts,” says Lori Taylor, better known in the produce industry as The Produce Mom.

Taylor created the program in 2012 and used celebrities and local heroes who selected their own personal favorite fruit or vegetable as a way to generate kids’ interest in produce. The program was piloted in 67 Indianapolis Public Schools during that same year and entailed short video segments and large posters of each hero that hung in the cafeterias of participating schools. The program has now grown into a traveling school show that visits 15 schools throughout Indiana and reaches 5,500 students.

“We’re really here trying to encourage them by showing different videos of celebrities talking about their fruits and vegetables to really help encourage kids to do the same,” says Julia Pohlman, Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader and Mascot Program Assistant for the Find Your Favorite School Show.

The school show begins with Pohlman greeting the crowd of students who watch a short video featuring Beth Foland, a registered dietitian with the Department of Education. In the video, Foland introduces Indianapolis Colts mascot Blue, who then assists Pohlman in dialing local heroes like WNBA star Tamika Catchings and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal. Each local celebrity talks to the kids via recorded video about their favorite fruit or vegetable.

The school show is funded in part by a USDA Team Nutrition grant. Team Nutrition is a national program from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition service with a goal of teaching kids about healthy food options and My Plate.

“The USDA really wants to promote healthy eating – so obviously our plans are to do that in the cafeteria, in the schools — but also we want the kids to understand about nutrition and we want to empower them to make healthy choices,” says Foland.

The school show makes a final stop May 22.