by Kirsten Criswell

After attending the School Wellness Summit in October 2014, Lompoc High School Health and Wellness Career Academy Coordinator Jenn Pyre saw an opportunity to strengthen wellness education. In collaboration with the Child Nutrition Services Department’s Harvest of the Month program, Pyre’s 10th grade Health Careers class launched “Brave Harvest of the Month.”

Each month, students deliver featured Harvest of the Month produce to all 75 staff members on campus. In brief presentations, the students provide nutritional information about the produce and answer questions. If students do not know the answer to a faculty member’s question, it becomes a homework assignment, with the answer submitted to the inquiring teacher in writing.

Students have faced a few challenges; teachers eating fast food, claiming to be allergic to broccoli or requesting candy instead of the harvest of the month offering. Students cheerfully offer the nutritional flyers in such cases, having learned from their healthcare-trained teacher that “Patient Education” is critical to changing behaviors.


Brave Harvest students at Lompoc High School explain the benefits of broccoli to a wary staff member.

After two months, Pyre says students are taking better care of their own well-being and sharing the information with their families. Faculty members report that they appreciate the program and the opportunity to challenge the students to help them learn not only about nutrition, but about teaching.

Student Audreyanna Villa enjoys providing information about healthy choices, and now better understands the benefits of whole foods vs. processed fast foods. Kathy Bertlesen, manager of LUSD Child Nutrition Services, says that the new Harvest of the Month program supports the district’s Wellness Policy goals of nutrition education and promotion.

Ashley Costa, Executive Director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, who also collaborated with Pyre on the launch of “Brave Harvest of the Month,” says the role reversal with the students and the teaching staff is a great way to shake things up and it puts the students on the other side of the desk.

We look forward to an update on the Brave Harvest of the Month at the 2015 School Wellness Summit, tentatively scheduled for October 8.


Kirsten Criswell is a Chef Instructor with the Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative