Community garden creates hands-on nutrition curriculum for nearby schools

[image credit:  Washington Youth Garden]
[image credit: Washington Youth Garden]

Schools in food deserts have minimal funding for nutrition education

Many schools have a two-sided problem when it comes to nutrition: the schools with more of a problem are also less equipped to address it. In urban Washington DC, not only are many lower-income neighborhoods food deserts, but they also have to fight for funding in Congress, where every dollar must be justified. It can be difficult to scrounge up funding for nutrition education.

If you haven’t lived in a food desert before, it can be difficult to understand the benefits of being exposed to something as simple as a growing carrot. One program volunteer mentioned frequently coming to work and hearing phrases like “I’ve never eaten a plant before.”

Solution: Partner with a local public garden

The National Botanical Garden has created a hands-on nutrition and gardening program that takes kids out of the classroom and into the garden, where they plant, grow, and cook their own produce. Eventually, fresh garden produce is incorporated into the school cafeteria menu. The program is a long-term, 3-5 year approach that ensures school buy-in and financial support of the garden. They have seven schools in various stages of the program’s lifecycle.

Limitations: it is labor-intensive to partner with a school, and the botanical garden expands to one additional school per year. To expand their reach, they have partnered with FoodCorps to increase staffing for the program.

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Category: EducationHunger

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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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