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Lessons in healthy lifestyles

  • Patty Guzman, 11, helps her sister Esme Guzman, 3, with writing her name for a tag to put on a pot she planted with lettuce seeds as part of the Redwood Empire Food Bank summer lunch program at the Canyon Run Apartments in Healdsburg, June 28, 2010. The kids had a lunch of a burrito, cantaloupe, vegetables, tortilla chips and salsa and milk then moved on to learn about gardening and growing their own food.

Patty Guzman has watched her father grow vegetables at a community garden, but beginning this week, the 11-year-old is planning to give him a run for his money as a green thumb.

"I like doing the garden because I like planting stuff," the 11-year-old from Healdsburg said as she worked the soil over freshly planted lettuce seeds.

She can taste the difference between her father's homegrown veggies and those the family buys at the store, she said.

Power Up Your Summer Program

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"The ones that he grows taste better," she said.

Guzman is getting a shot at raising her own food — lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, peppers — through a summer program called Power Up Your Summer.

Sponsored by Network for a Healthy California and the Redwood Empire Food Bank, the program combines service of breakfast and lunch to low income children with tutorials on gardening and promotion of exercise.

The program targets kids in low income families through Boys and Girls Clubs, parks and recreation departments, community centers and apartment complexes.

Children are invited to have a free lunch, as well as breakfast in some locations, while getting garden and exercise journals to monitor growth of their vegetables and their physical activity for the week.

The program targets students who qualify for free and reduced lunch during the school year but who might not have access to a healthful array of foods during the summer months.

In 2008-09, more than 51 percent, or 3.2 million, of California's school children were enrolled in the state's free and reduced meal program, according to the state Department of Education. But only 481,000 children took part in summer meal programs.


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