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Rural Health Information Hub

South Dakota Harvest of the Month Program

Summary 
  • Need: To encourage children to make healthy eating choices through learning and tasting.
  • Intervention: Brief, fun, and informative presentations and tastings for children on over 42 different fruits and vegetables.
  • Results: Participants are exposed to new foods and show more interest in healthy eating.

Description

South Dakota Harvest of the Month logo Harvest of the Month (HOM) is an adaptable, easy-to-use program that gets kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables. Through a short presentation and produce sampling, children learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables every day.

Since being brought from California to South Dakota in 2008, South Dakota Harvest of the Month has been working to encourage healthy eating choices among toddlers and elementary school students in communities across the state.

The program provides free, downloadable lesson plans for teachers – complete with PowerPoints and printable recipe handouts for students to bring home to their families. Harvest of the Month may be offered in the following contexts:

  • Individual classrooms (PreK-5th grade)
  • Health classes
  • Gym classes
  • School assemblies
  • Afterschool programs
  • Home visits

"The long-term goal of Harvest of the Month is to impact youth to make healthier food choices," said Rhea Waldman, Executive Director of the South Dakota Discovery Center. "If a kid chooses to eat a healthy snack instead of sugary treats, we have been successful."

This short video shows a Pierre teacher using Harvest of the Month in his gym class:

Services offered

The HOM elementary school program includes a brief presentation focused on an individual fruit or vegetable, followed by a tasting. The interactive presentation includes the following information:

  • History
  • Peak seasons
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Cultivation
  • Supermarket tips (choosing fresh, ripe produce)

The HOM program for in-class preschool children includes:

  • Fun activities involving the featured food
  • Lessons on how eating the featured food helps bodies grow healthy and strong
  • An easy taste test
  • A fun and simple taste test extension that could be used for snack time

The home-visit program includes all of the above plus easy ways for childcare providers and parents/guardians to make purees for toddlers with the featured food.

Student handouts include a short review of the information learned at school, along with fun and easy recipes that families can try at home.

Results

SD HOM has been offered in schools across the state, with participants from 29 South Dakota towns, including all Pierre elementary schools.

The program has recorded a number of testimonials from parents, including the following:

"My son is much more willing to try foods that he previously refused. Also, now if he is given the choice and told that one food is healthier than the other, he will make a conscious choice to pick the healthier food."

"We now always have fresh spinach and black beans at our house. We eat them often. I add parsnips and green chilies to soups and casseroles and sweet potatoes or pumpkin puree to lots of baked items. Never would my family have considered this before HOM!"

Additional parent and teacher testimonials are available on the HOM website.

Challenges

One barrier to implementing this program is finding funding sources to purchase the food. In addition, commitment from schools is necessary to sustain this program beyond a guided implementation phase.

Replication

The South Dakota Discovery Center can provide assistance in using the HOM program and share their experiences.

Free, downloadable lesson plans for over 42 different featured foods are available on the South Dakota Harvest of the Month website. All lesson plans include handouts, recipes, PowerPoint presentations, and alterations for pre-K and out-of-school learning contexts.

Contact Information

Dr. Rhea Waldman, Executive Director
South Dakota Discovery Center
South Dakota Harvest of the Month
605.224.8295
rheawaldman@sd-discovery.org

Topics
Children and youth
Food security and nutrition
Schools
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention

States served
South Dakota

Date added
June 18, 2013

Date updated or reviewed
May 25, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. South Dakota Harvest of the Month Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/727 [Accessed 27 May 2024]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.