Don’t have the ability to grow your own? Join a community garden or get your school to grow one. In fact, a study found that adding school gardens also results in kids eating more vegetables.
The study, covering 16 schools across Central Texas, found that kids who worked in a garden and also took courses on nutrition and cooking consumed half a cup of vegetables each day.
“Teaching kids where their food comes from, how to grow it, how to prepare it – that’s key to changing eating behaviors over the long term,” say Jaimie Davis, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at UT Austin and lead author of the study.
This is incredibly important in an era when huge numbers of adults and children alike are considered obese or overweight, and viruses like COVID-19 are shown to specifically target fat cells.
Food Deserts Impact Poorer Kids
The Texas study was part of a focus on schools serving underprivileged children. These areas are often considered ‘food deserts’ due to the absence of grocery stores selling fresh produce and other nutritious foods. As a result, many kids in these areas suffer from high levels of obesity, diabetes, and other health challenges.
And although a half cup of vegetables may not seem like a big leap forward, as most parents know, getting a child to consume a single broccoli floret or green bean can at times seem impossible.
“Behavior changes can be difficult to achieve, especially long term,” says Davis. “Getting children to eat more vegetables can potentially set them up for long-term success.”
Want to start your child or child’s school on the path to gardening? Check out Kids Gardening, a wonderful resource designed to help that includes grants and other support programs.