PHARR – Three elementary schools in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD were surprised with grants from H-E-B and Dole Foods after winning the second ‘Let’s Get Growing Educational Program’ competition on Friday, May 11. Raul Longoria Elementary in Pharr earned 1st place, Santos Livas Elementary in Alamo earned 2nd place, and Sgt. Leonel Treviño in San Juan earned 3nd place for their tremendous efforts during the competition.




As part of a continuing partnership between H-E-B, Dole, and PSJA ISD, the ‘Let’s Get Growing’ educational program kicked off at all 25 elementary schools within the district earlier this year. Designed to make eating fruits and vegetables fun, the 12-week program aims to teach 2nd graders the fundamentals of agriculture in modern day society and ways to improve eating habits.




According to PSJA Elementary Science Coordinator Susana Ramirez, while the program is geared toward 2nd graders, this year PSJA ISD saw it as an opportunity to educate students in the entire campuses and engage the community about eating healthy.




The program was led by teachers and supported by an H-E-B Registered Dietitian who provided cooking demonstrations in each classroom using easy-to-follow recipes.




As part of the competition, students were challenged to try 15 different fruits and vegetables, and track them on a special handout with the help of their parents. Completed handouts were collected by each participating school and tallied to determine an overall winner.




Of the more than 2,200 PSJA ISD second graders participating, Longoria Elementary students placed at the top for having the highest completion rate, with almost all students completing the fruit and vegetable challenge. Due to their efforts, the students and staff were surprised with a $10,000 check from H-E-B and Dole Foods that will go toward incorporating additional playground equipment.




In addition, Santos Livas Elementary received $5,000 and Treviño Elementary $2,500 for placing among the top of their schools and going above and beyond during the competition.



For students at Longoria Elementary taking part in the educational initiative and the competition was a fun learning experience.




“We're so excited that we won a playscape,” said second grade student Itzel Ramirez. “I loved getting to learn about all the different fruits and vegetables."




Since its creation, the ‘Let’s Get Growing Educational Program' has impacted more than 6,000 PSJA ISD elementary students, with 1,200 participating in 2017 with the winning school being Kelly-Pharr Elementary. More than 5,000 students participated this school year.