Can cooking and gardening at school inspire better nutrition? Ask these kids
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of NPR
Posted: October 16th, 2023
After a decline in nutrition education in U.S. schools in recent decades, there's new momentum to weave food and cooking into the curriculum again. Remember the hands-on cooking in home economics class, which was a staple in U.S. schools for decades? "I'd love to see it brought back and have the science around healthy eating integrated," says Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dean told me she was inspired by a visit to Watkins Elementary, in Washington, D.C., where this idea is germinating. Students grow vegetables in their school garden. They also roll up their sleeves in the school's kitchen to participate in a FRESHFARM FoodPrints class, which integrates cooking and nutrition education. Evaluations show participation in FRESHFARM programs is associated with increased preference for fruits and vegetables. And, the CDC points to evidence that nutrition education may help students maintain a healthy weight and can also help students recognize the connection between food and emotional wellbeing. Given the key role diet plays in preventing chronic disease, the agency says it would be ideal to offer more nutrition education. Programs like FRESHFARM can help kids expand their palettes by introducing them to new tastes. At first, many kids are turned off by the bitter taste of greens. But through the alchemy of cooking, caramelizing the onions, and blending in fresh ginger, kids can be inspired.
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