Tangipahoa Volunteers for Family and Community Busy Bees, an all-volunteer arm of the LSU Extension Service, recently visited kindergarten classes at Amite Elementary and Cherbourg Elementary to introduce the children to its literacy program, The Family Book Bag. The children listened to a story, “Five A Day the Color Way,” which emphasized the importance of eating a variety of foods — all that include a color in a rainbow — for better nutrition.

With chants of “Give me five a day,” the children learned the importance of eating a total of five to nine fruits and vegetables from the five color categories, including red, white, blue, green and yellow, every day.

To reinforce this idea, the group provided each classroom with all of the necessary equipment to teach better nutrition, the importance of playing more and reading at home. Each child has the opportunity to take home a canvas book bag filled with books to read at home, and lots of information for parents and guardians on how they can help encourage their child to read more, play more and eat better. When the book bag is returned, the student receives a small reward for successfully completing the program.

During the school year, teachers have information to teach better nutrition to their students with information from the USDA programs My Plate and the Five A Day the Color Way. My Plate teaches portion control and how youths can fill their plate with one-quarter of lean protein, one-quarter of starch and one-half fruits and vegetables. This is the eighth year the group has sponsored the program, which is fully funded by contributions from local businesses and grants the group received from organizations. Each year, The Family Book Bag program impacts about 300 students in local kindergartens.

For information, contact the LSU Extension Office in Amite at (985) 748-9381.