It may be difficult to get them to try healthy foods, but given the opportunity, kids are eating greens straight from the school garden.
In the elementary school districts in the Beacon and Poughkeepsie areas, kids are eating greens, talking about them and reaping all the benefits from sowing seeds assisted by farm to school projects in cooperation with the Poughkeepsie Farm Project and Hudson Valley Seed. . “One of my favorite moments this year was planting squash. I never knew what squash looked like before now,” said third grade student. Elizabeth Carbone.
Healthy eating and education about ecology is a growing trend. Throughout the Hudson Valley, gardens are growing at schools and helping provide food to children in poor areas. Over the past five years, the Poughkeepsie Farm Project has assisted the Poughkeepsie schools, which has more than 80 percent of students participating in the free and reduced lunch program. Hudson Valley Seed has been working with the Beacon City School District where the poverty index is at 45 percent.
The cost of Hudson Valley Seed’s participation in the Beacon City Schools costs $122 per student. 10 percent is paid by the district, and the rest is paid by donations to the non profit.
School gardens are not new, but these programs take it further. Kids create their own recipes and vote on them and then add them to the school lunch menu.
“When children do not consume enough fiber rich fresh vegetables and fruits as part of their overall diet, their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity is much greater,” said Megan Murray, nutrition educator with Eat Smart New York.