Sustainable agriculture, healthy food choices, hands-on science.

It all adds up to “Veggie U,” which I learned yesterday is making its foray into fourth-grade classrooms in Arlee, the Gallatin Gateway, Helena, Lakeside and Wilsall. Students in the five-week program learn about growing food while tending their own gardens.

Read on for the full press release:

FOURTH GRADE CLASSROOMS

IN ARLEE AND GALLATIN GATEWAY

LAUNCH EDUCATIONAL “VEGGIE U” CLASSROOM PROGRAM

Five-week science program teaches students hands-on lessons about healthy eating and sustainable agriculture

(HELENA, Mont.)–PacificSource Health Plans has expanded its Veggie U program to include five elementary schools across Montana. Fourth-grade students at Arlee Elementary and Gallatin Gateway schools were among those recently selected to take part in the five-week science program that combines a 25-lesson curriculum on making healthy food choices with hands-on tools for teaching kids concepts of sustainable agriculture.

Since March 31, Ashley Davis’ fourth graders at Gallatin Gateway and Dan Ries’ fourth graders at Arlee have been learning the basic elements of planting, growing and harvesting a crop in their classroom with the aid of a Veggie U garden kit funded by PacificSource. The kit came complete with seeds, soil, flats, root view boxes, grow lights and even a worm farm.

During the months of February and March, four other PacificSource-sponsored Veggie U programs have been launched in elementary schools across Montana, including the communities of Helena, Lakeside and Wilsall.

These local efforts are part of a national Veggie U classroom educational program (http://www.veggieu.org/) dedicated to combating childhood obesity and increasing kids’ awareness of healthy food options and the importance of sustainable agriculture. To date, Veggie U has been taught in more than 4,700 classrooms in 32 states nationwide.

Veggie U, and promoting nutrition education in schools, is part of PacificSource Health Plans’ initiative to improve the health of the people in communities in which they serve.

“The Veggie U Classroom Program serves as a great reminder of the importance of eating fresh, healthy, and locally-grown foods that are part of the farm to table movement,” said Todd Lovshin, Montana regional director for PacificSource Health Plans. “We’re excited to partner with local teachers to bring the message of health and well-being into Montana classrooms.”

About PacificSource Health Plans:

PacificSource Health Plans is an independent, not-for-profit community health plan serving Montana, Oregon, and Idaho. Founded in 1933, PacificSource has offices in Helena and six other Northwest communities. The PacificSource family of companies employs 700 people, serves more than 300,000 individuals, and has 6,200 employer clients throughout the NorthwestFor more information visit pacificsource.com.