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"I like to deliver food to people and I like
it when they say thank you." 
- Celia
"I like telling the facts about what is cool about the fruits and vegetables."   -Tyler

Youth ambassadors deliver healthy eating message to classmates

Harnessing students’ enthusiasm for delivering the message that eating fruits and vegetables is tasty marks the cornerstone of third-grade teacher Ms. Ling’s “Youth Ambassador” program strategy.

Her innovative use of the Harvest of the Month Program motivates her Francis Scott Key Elementary School students to develop healthier eating habits and to increase physical activity. In the interview below, Ms. Ling shares creative ideas that empower her students to take a leadership role in health promotion.

Q: Please describe the Harvest of the Month (HOTM) Ambassadors program you implemented.

  • Francis Scott Key is part of the SFCSD School Health Program's Nutrition Education Project. Each month a fresh seasonal produce item is delivered to our school for each student to taste. Sometimes the students taste the produce in the cafeteria with our Student Nutrition Coordinator. Usually the students sample the produce in the classroom with their teacher. As a Nutrition Education Project Teacher Leader (NEPTL), I am responsible for organizing the monthly classroom based Harvest of the Month
    Ms. Ling
    Ms. Ling
  • I decided to use the deliveries as an opportunity to give my students leadership roles. I assigned each student in my class a partner and then each pair of students was assigned to one classroom. The pair is responsible for delivering the HOTM to that classroom for the whole school year. Each pair also gives a short nutrition facts presentation (doc) on the harvest. Every month the pairs read the HOTM educators newsletter and pick out nutrition facts that they want to share with their classroom. I give them this script (doc) and they use it to prepare their presentation.
  • On the delivery day, each student wears a uniform (fruit and veggie t-shirt). They also put the harvest in a re-usable grocery bag. They have to use math skills to figure out how much produce per student and classroom.

Q: How did you get the idea to start the HOTM Ambassadors?

  • I felt that at third grade my students were ready to take on leadership roles. When I became a NEPTL and learned about Harvest of the Month distribution I thought I could create a great leadership opportunity for my students. I like the word ambassador because it means to represent and as HOTM ambassadors my students can represent HOTM to the school.

Q: What are some of the successes of the HOTM Ambassadors?

  • The students get to work on their memorization and fact finding skills while preparing their monthly HOTM speeches. They also practice team work and cooperation with their partner. Also, I see them grow as leaders and public speakers.
  • A success for the school is that everyone in the school community is much more aware of HOTM.
  • The school looks forward to seeing the HOTM Ambassadors because it means they get something to eat!

Q: What are some of the challenges with the HOTM Ambassadors?

  • It can be hard to take time every month to do this with my students because of all the other curriculum I have to implement. But it is worth it!

Q: What has been the student response to being part of the HOTM Ambassadors?

  • I think they like it. They get excited to see the produce and wear their “uniforms”.

Q: Why do you think it is important to give students opportunities for leadership?

  • Leadership is an important life skill and it is especially important to give shy kids opportunities to build confidence.

Q: What advice would you give to teachers who want to start similar youth empowerment projects in their classrooms?

  • Develop an organized system. Remember it’s important to give students leadership opportunities even though it is a bit of extra work for the teacher.

Questions for HOTM Ambassadors:

• What is your favorite part of being a HOTM Ambassador?

Celia: I like to deliver food to people and I like it when they say thank you.
Kevin: Being cool. People give all their attention to me.
Semir: Giving the speech and passing out the food.
Sophia: When I say the HOTM facts.
Sonja: Giving the speech because you get to share with the children about the fruits and vegetables.
Tyler: See my friends and say hi…. Telling the facts about what is cool about the fruits and vegetables. I get to walk in the hallways without an adult.


• What is the most difficult aspect of being a HOTM Ambassador?

Celia: Memorizing the HOTM facts.
Kevin: Standing and speaking in front of people who are older.
Semir: Memorizing the facts and saying them while everyone is staring at you.
Sophia: When I forget a fact and then I have to switch the order of my speech.
Sonja: When I make a mistake it is kind of embarrassing but I just keep on going.
Tyler: Trying to memorize the facts in one week


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Student, Family and Community Support DepartmentSan Francisco Unified School District