There’s nothing quite like the taste – or the joy – of munching on a just-picked vegetable you grew yourself.
These healthy bites provide more than flavor: they serve as the fuel that powers our bodies and provides the essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and energy needed for growth and development. Yet for something so essential, fewer than 1 in 10 children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables.
One Cool Earth is working to change that, with an initiative that connects students to their food, right at school.
The local nonprofit has started school gardens throughout SLO County, with an expansion planned to 42 schools. In these engaging school gardens, students can participate in weekly hands-on, science-linked nutrition education. Students are involved in every part of the growing process, from planting and tending the garden to harvesting, preparing and eating the fruits and vegetables they grow.
Harvested produce is then front and center in cooking lessons and tastings available to the entire school. The team even offers Family Cooking Nights, where families take home a cooking kit with ingredients from the garden, then follow alongside a virtual cooking class from their home kitchen.
The group’s mission is to create school gardens that grow happy, healthy, and smart youth – with the goal of making school gardens as ubiquitous and indispensable as libraries, sports fields and computer labs.
They’ve also partnered with the SLO Food Bank to incorporate information about CalFresh benefits to students and families at schools where the average student population is 52% low-income and 18% at risk of diet-related disease. The two organizations also work together to host after school farmers' markets and food pantries in the garden.
To learn more about One Cool Earth and their projects promoting health in SLO County, visit www.onecoolearth.org or follow them at www.facebook.com/OneCoolEarth.
Support for this program was provided by the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, which aims to address critical community health improvement needs and reduce health disparities.