UC Cooperative Extension | Agricultural Experiment Station
Utilizing school gardens is one of the most positive hands-on opportunities for youth to experience gardening while learning healthy eating habits. Children who are hungry or poorly nourished do less well in school, both academically and behaviorally. Our current crisis in the rising rates of obesity and related diseases among children is now well known. The proliferation of unhealthy fast foods and the limited intake by children of fresh fruits and vegetables all contribute to this situation. As concern rises, policy makers and teachers in the classroom are searching for ways to improve the health and well being of their students. Moreover, because eating habits and preferences are established early, and although home influences are strong, school is a valuable venue for teaching good nutrition, balanced diets and proper serving amounts. The most effective way to increase children's intake of fruits and vegetables and encourage lifelong healthful eating habits is to teach them about healthy choices and nutrition concepts in the elementary years (Kirby, 1995). Studies show that if established before 6th grade, positive habits are more likely to persist into adulthood.