Spread the Health Appalachia Awarded Two Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grants

Spread the Health Appalachia Awarded Two Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grants

MANCHESTER, KY (April 24, 2014) – Expanded school gardens are coming to Clay and Jackson counties in Kentucky! On February 14, Spread the Health Appalachia, in partnership with Manchester Elementary School in Clay County and Jackson County High School in Jackson County, was awarded two Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grants. The grants will support the development of a school garden at Manchester Elementary and the expansion of the garden at Jackson County High School.

Spread the Health Appalachia (STHA), a partnership between Microclinic International and the Bell County, Knox County, and Cumberland Valley District Health Departments, has been working with six schools throughout the Cumberland Valley to develop Farm to School programs. Funded by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Transformation Grant-Small Communities, STHA aims to reduce the high rates of chronic disease – heart disease, diabetes, and obesity – by making the healthy choice the easy choice for communities in the region.

Farm to School programs are an important tool in the quest for healthy children. Such programs teach students where food comes from, how to cook and eat healthier, and encourages active lifestyles in an effort to improve long-term health. In southeast Kentucky, more than one third of children are overweight, far above the national average, and there are limited nutrition education opportunities. Unhealthy students miss more days of school and are less engaged than their healthy counterparts, making childhood obesity both an academic and health problem.

“Research has shown that garden-based education can improve academic performance, it can help kids get more excited about learning, and it can be a powerful tool for educating students about sustainability and taking care of the environment,” says Lakin Daniels, STHA Farm to School team lead. School gardens can also increase students’ self-esteem, develop responsibility, promote higher quality learning across all subjects, and foster parent involvement.

Manchester Elementary is excited to get their garden started and they have already established a school-wide composting program, using food waste from the cafeteria to nurture their garden produce. Jackson County High School is building upon their past experience with Farm to School activities by expanding their garden, partnering with the Jackson County Middle School, hosting cook off events to encourage hands-on learning, and integrating the Farm to School curriculum.

The Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with FoodCorps, provides $2,000 to fund school gardens and relevant activities. Manchester Elementary School and Jackson High School will join a network of more than 1,500 schools across the country with schools gardens funded by the Whole Kids Foundation.

With the support of the Whole Kids Foundation, students and community members in Clay and Jackson counties will experience nutrition and education benefits!

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