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Teaching Gardens

Posted Nov 09 2011 9:27am

At the last week, we heard a presentation from child-nutrition activist Kelly Meyer. She recently teamed up with the American Heart Association and a number of America’s schools to teach kids about healthy living through fun, hands-on Teaching Gardens .

During her presentation, she shared this video, which really struck a chord with me:

Toward the end of the video, a little girl, probably about 9 years old, told Kelly that she never tasted an orange before. The scene totally broke my heart, and I knew that I needed to spread the word about this program.

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Today, nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese, and fewer than one in 10 high school students receive the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables daily. French fries are the most common source of vegetables consumed by children and make up one-fourth of their vegetable intake. 

Teaching Garden Founder Kelly Meyer: 

When I heard the staggering statistics about how much obesity-related illnesses are impacting our children, I was driven to do something to inspire kids to get healthy.  The simple process of putting a seed into the earth, nurturing it and harvesting the food teaches our kids to make positive choices for health and fitness. I’m proud to join forces with the American Heart Association to dramatically advance what can be accomplished to improve the well-being of our children.

Studies consistently show that healthy behavior (eating, exercise, sleep, etc.) positively impacts learning. The Teaching Garden model targets elementary and middle school-aged students, teaching them what it means to eat healthy and be physically active. The goal of the program is to improve children’s health, which often correlates to improvements in children’s academic and physical performance.

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A core belief of Teaching Gardens is that when you educate a child about nutritional choices, that child will teach his or her family and ultimately pass that knowledge on to others. The hope is that by teaching kids where vegetables come from and the benefits of healthy eating, they can inspire change and reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country.

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Teaching Gardens set out a simple task: grow an organic garden, support it with a nutrition curriculum, enhance it with education about the importance of physical fitness, and challenge each student to make small changes to improve their health. It’s a real life laboratory where students learn how to plant seeds, nurture the growing plants, harvest the food, and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits and the importance of physical activity. 

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As part of the initial rollout, several new Teaching Gardens were completed this year with hundreds more to be announced later in the year and beyond.

For more information about the Teaching Garden program and how your school can participate, visit www.takepart.com/teachinggarden . If your school ends up participating, please let me know. I’d love to help!

Additionally, teaching children the value of healthy eating has been a mission of Dole’s for over twenty years, so, to support the Teaching Gardens, they have created the DOLE Garden Kit . Included in it is everything needed to start your own vegetable garden.

Dinner

Dinner was a random mix of about-to-go-bad foods thrown into a pasta dish: wilted broccoli, wrinkly tomatoes, and eat-now-or-never Italian sausage. I brought the veggies back to life by roasting them in the oven. Meanwhile, I sautéed the sausage and boiled some water for whole wheat ziti. Once everything was cooked, I tossed it all together with Garlic Gold oil and topped the dish with freshly grated Parmesan. Delicious, nutritious, and no food went to waste. 

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After dinner, I enjoyed a bowl of Apple Crisp with vanilla yogurt on top.

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I ‘healthified’ my mom’s recipe by using more apples, less flour and sugar (1/2 cup of each) and only 1/3 of a stick of butter (instead of a whole one) and substituted a big scoop of vanilla yogurt for the missing butter. The end result was pretty tasty— the topping was really chewy—but, of course, I like the original recipe the best.

Breakfast

This morning’s breakfast was leftover Apple Crisp mixed with rolled oats, soy milk, and ground flaxseed meal. I also added a big scoop of Chia Charger nut butter .

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Be Thankful Challenge

I am thankful for access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Feel Great Weight

It’s that time of year when I take my running workouts inside to the treadmill. Or should I say dreadmill? The treadmill can be a real drag, but I find that using a plan to guide my workout keeps me on track, interested, and motivated, so the time flies by. Here are three of my favorite (read: not boring) treadmill workouts: Take It Inside: 3 (Not Boring) Treadmill Workouts .

Question of the Day

What do you think of the Teaching Gardens? Do you know anyone who might want to get involved?

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