Monday
Apr 20
2015
April 20, 2015

Carol Chong

National Nutrition Advisor, Healthy Schools Program

Getting to the Root: Building a Healthier Generation through School Gardens

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At the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, we believe that healthier kids lead to brighter futures. It’s our mission to ensure that the next generation has every opportunity to live long, healthy lives. As we prepare to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day, we reflect on the world that this next generation will live in and their role in keeping it healthy.

Just like the environmental movement, our in-school and out-of-school time programs support sustainability. We focus on long-term solutions, helping administrators, teachers, parents and community members build infrastructure and create systems that allow kids to develop lifelong healthy habits.

Just like the environmental movement, our in-school and out-of-school time programs support sustainability.

Likewise, we encourage the next generation to focus less on highly processed foods with little nutritional value and learn to enjoy foods that nourish their bodies. Fresh produce is not only good for kids nutritionally; choosing foods that have been minimally processed and have less packaging is also better for the planet – a true win-win!

In many of our schools, our champions are teaching kids where their food comes from, and that food doesn’t just appear on the lunch line or dinner plate. School leaders tell us that the more kids learn about how their food is grown – often by getting their hands dirty – the more enthusiastic they are about eating fresh fruits and vegetables at mealtimes. In this way, farm-to-school and gardening programs are helping communities around the country successfully connect the dots for kids.

Fresh produce is not only good for kids nutritionally; choosing foods that have been minimally processed and have less packaging is also better for the planet – a true win-win!

In Tennessee’s Jackson-Madison County School System, School Nutrition Director Susan Johnson took school gardening to a whole new level. She partnered with the high school’s career and technology teacher, who oversees the district’s green house, to create a “Farm to Tray” partnership. High school students now supply enough lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers for five other cafeterias in the district!

Wayne County High School in Monticello, Kentucky partnered with their local Future Farmers of America chapter to build an on-site garden that now harvests and serves tomatoes, cantaloupe, green and red sweet peppers, broccoli, eggplant, cucumbers and cabbage to its students from August through November.

Anyone can start a garden with some basic supplies, sunlight and water. We’ve created a tip sheet for families and a toolkit for schools that want to help kids learn more about where their food comes from by starting a garden. This Earth Day, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and remember the importance of helping the next generation develop healthier, lifelong habits.


In recognition of Earth Day, the Clinton Foundation is showing how climate change and sustainability are at the root of many pressing global issues. Our Earth Day 2015 series will feature different voices across our initiatives, to highlight the ways in which the Earth can be used as a valuable resource to advance progress within our focus areas on an individual, community, and global level. 

Learn more about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s work to build healthier environments for kids.