The correlation between childhood obesity and poverty is easy to make. Junk food is cheap. Organic and healthy food is usually not. When parents are struggling to pay bills, they often have to sacrifice nutrition for price. Unfortunately when children go to school the choices don’t improve. Vending machines are filled with sugary sodas and potato chips, and many school lunches still don’t pass the healthy challenge.
But now the FoodCorps movement is growing, and with it, hope that the younger generation can reverse the troubling trend of obesity. FoodCorps provides a hands-on approach to educating our children about healthy eating. Through Service Members, this grassroots organization teaches nutrition, sets up school gardens, and puts healthy, local food back into school lunches. Students from participating schools work together to grow their own garden and learn about nutrition, exercise and the local food system. The theory is that if a child grows their own food, they’ll be more likely to eat it.
The educational and health benefits of incorporating a school garden are endless:
- Health and Nutrition – How does the body use healthy foods? What vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are in the fruits and vegetables grown, and what function do they serve? In contrast, what happens when salts, sugars and processed foods are put into the body?
- Botany and Science – How do seeds grow? What is germination? How do you determine the amount of soil, sun and rain needed? How do insects help or harm the growth process?
- Business and Financial – How do farmers determine price to make a profit? What is the best way to plan your crop yield, based on demand? How do plan for lost profits due to drought, flood or disease?
- Teamwork and Collaboration – What is the best way to divide and conquer responsibilities? How can you produce a higher crop yield through specialized jobs?
There’s a good chance that FoodCorps will be coming to a school near you. The organization hopes to have 1,000 service members in all 50 states by the year 2020. For more information, visit www.foodcorps.org.