By Nathan Smith
Our kids are fat–and getting fatter.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 17 percent, or 12.5 million, U.S. children aged two to 19 years old are obese. Since 1980, childhood obesity has almost tripled.
Doctors, experts, university research and government agencies point to sugary drinks and less healthy foods on school campuses and advertising of less healthy foods. Also, variations in licensure regulations among child care centers and lack of daily, quality physical activity in all schools add up.
Increasing portion sizes and television and “screen time” are more contributors, according to the CDC.
Whole Foods Market shoppers recently topped $2 million in donations to the School Garden Grant Program. The initiative is supported by Whole Kids Foundation and FoodCorps, a group that helps schools launch farm-to-school programs.
I’ll be honest. I hardly ever shop at Whole Foods. I’m not one of their “followers” and while I disagree with some of their positions on modern agriculture, this initiative looks like a step in the right direction.
The funds raised will go toward giving students a starter kit on how to grow a garden and discounts on supplies and seeds. FoodCorps stands ready to aid with questions and long-term support but it will be up to the students to plant, care for and harvest their garden. What a satisfying activity!
Gardening gets kids outside, in the dirt. You remember playing in the dirt, right? They will be active, they will be responsible and they will experience what it takes to see something through. With food growing at their fingertips, they might even learn to like vegetables again.
Will this program end childhood obesity tomorrow? No, but if schools take notice it could be an effective weapon.
Students learn about healthy eating and the program offers teachers a great opportunity to connect students with what farmers do each day.
What are your thoughts about childhood obesity?