By Lacy Hansen for Diets In Review | Image via Billy Delfs
It’s not news that our nation’s youth is in a serious health crisis. The latest statistics say that 17 percent or 12.5 million children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese; not overweight, but obese.
In addition, our children are dealing with diseases at an alarming rate. Whether it’s weight-related ailments like type 2 diabetes or simply a lack of essential vitamins from poor diets, our kids are in a bleak state.
Thankfully, more and more people are noticing this trend and attempting to do something about it instead of just discussing ways to fix the problem. We’re all familiar with first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. Mrs. Obama and her team have worked diligently to get children moving and eating healthy. However, the task is so daunting that it’s going to take more than one initiative to turn things around. Thankfully, other programs are making great strides in this arena as well.
Veggie U is a truly unique and powerful program for children. This science-based curriculum for fourth graders was created by doctors, farmers, chefs, and teachers in Ohio who were motivated by the health dilemmas facing today’s youth. In response, the group desired to create a program that allowed children to learn more about the food they eat and how it impacts their health. Furthermore, they wanted to not only show kids more about healthy food options, but also teach them about the importance of sustainable agriculture. These ideas eventually gave birth to Veggie U’s “Earth to Table” curriculum.
“Earth to Table” allows students to connect with the food they consume by allowing them to grow their own food. Students in the program are given a complete grow kit that allows the children to learn the entire food process from seed to harvest. The children even have root view boxes, worm farms, and grow lights for the hands-on study.
When the session has ended each child gets to eat their results. The program designers believe this will allow children to make better and more informed food choices for themselves, along with learning the art of farming.
Veggie U has been in operation since 2003. They are striving to get funding and support in order to meet their goal of having the “Earth to Table” program in all 93,000 fourth grade classrooms in the country. The founders believe that this program could help decrease childhood disease and increase children’s awareness of healthy food options. Furthermore, it’s believed that healthy children also learn better.
These types of programs are essential if our kids are going to get out of the hole we’ve helped dig. Healthy food, healthy farming, and healthy choices are all at the core of Veggie U. Teachers and parents can get more information about the curriculum at the VeggieU website. Let’s help Veggie U get into all fourth grade classrooms for the sake of today’s and future generations’ health.