Study Shows Edible Schoolyard Program Nets Nutritious Results
After a three year study, researchers from the University of California-Berkeley found that elementary and middle school students who participated in the food and gardening curriculum showed increased knowledge of nutrition and ate more fruits and vegetables than students not exposed to the Edible Schoolyard program.
The research verified that kids who plant, nurture and grow their own vegetables and fruits are more likely to eat them at the dinner table—even leafy greens such as spinach, kale and chard.
Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard program is considered to be the most advanced in America. Cafeterias offer made-from-scratch meals using local meats and produce. There are gardens in the school district’s 11 elementary and three middle schools and 13 instructional kitchens.
Science classes are frequently held in the gardens, while English, history and math course often take place in school kitchens.
After one year in what researchers described as a “fully developed school lunch initiative,” fifth graders ate nearly an extra serving and a total of 1.5 extra servings of fruits and vegetables. The study concluded that students who are fed a regular curriculum of gardening, cooking and nutrition have significantly better eating habits than children who don’t get the same instruction.
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