Erik Zepeda wouldn't completely admit to liking fresh fruit snacks over a candy bar, but he was eagerly chowing down on a cup of sliced apples and raisins Friday on National Food Day.
"They taste good," he said of his healthy snack.
Erik was one of more than 200 schoolchildren celebrating Food Day at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe. The students were treated to healthy snack tasting, information about eating healthily, fitness activities including Zumba and demonstration of a smoothie blender powered by a bicycle.
The event also featured tours of the school's garden that is dedicated to Bob Forbes, a longtime instructor who died earlier this year.
"Health and wellness," said Matt Dwyer, nutrition services director for the Guadalupe Union School District, about the event's focus. "Healthy eating, sustainable growing, supporting local businesses."
The school district partnered with Dignity Health Central Coast, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Community Health Centers, Thrive Guadalupe, Orfalea Foundation, Apio, Babe Farms and Gold Coast Farms on the event that Dwyer said the district hopes will be an annual affair.
The event also served as a good stage for state Rep. Hannah-Beth Jackson to tell parents about Senate Bill 949, which she authored and Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last month. The bill establishes a voluntary California Distinguished After School Health (DASH) recognition program that will cite programs that only offer students healthy choices and programs.
DASH certified programs will only offer fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks, water or healthy drinks, require 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity and provide no "screen time" on computers or devices.
"We're here to make sure everybody remembers to eat well, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and stays active," Jackson told the students.
For Erik, his classmates and teacher, Janice Lillard, the day was "fun."
"It's awesome," Lillard said. "It brings what we teach -- instruction -- to life. They get to taste it here and take it home with them."
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