America’s Bootstraps: Reaching for Vegetables

America’s Bootstraps: Reaching For Vegetables

Mon 17 Dec 2012

Story by Bonnie Neer

For too long Americans believed that children hate vegetables.

A battle that began and ended at the dinner table served only to link food with punishment and become an issue of control polarizing family meals. None of us want battles over food. In truth, we need children to make good food decisions even when we aren’t there to insist.

We want our kids to reach for vegetables

A school garden in Novato, California, provides an opportunity for kids to do just that. Six years ago, the Olive Elementary School built a garden with beds for each grade plus a few extra. What began as a way to teach how things grow has transformed the students’ relationship to vegetables. Now they know just how good vegetables taste when they grow them with their own hands.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Those extra garden beds they built six years ago are planted, tended and harvested. With the guidance of Robin Nosti, a teacher at Olive Elementary, the children grow food for the school cafeteria. Volunteering their lunch recess, buckets of freshly picked vegetables get walked up to the school kitchen.

Sourcing local food doesn’t get more local than this.

The garden has wrapped the issue of eating vegetables into a myriad of great experiences and education that result in the children feeling good about themselves and what they are doing. It has connected them with a health affirming way of life. They are making a contribution, having an impact and learning a sense of worth that comes from serving their community.

There are no battles just examples of collaboration and ingenuity that show us how we can create communities of shared values and individual empowerment that serve our children, our families and our planet.

Please watch the Olive Elementary School Garden video and share it with your community.

For the last ten years, Miguel Villarreal, Director of the Food and Nutritional Services at the Novato Unified School District has integrated healthy, organic school food into education in the classroom, the gardens and with the local farmers. Training his staff in culinary skills introduced handmade meals to the school kitchens and opened the doors to the opportunity the school garden offers.

About the author: Bonnie Neer is a Consultant, Writer & Speaker for Wellness Education and Initiatives. You can connect with Bonnie at Bonnie Neer Channel


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