June 19, 2024


The importance of exercise

Serving to children cultivate balanced having practices Santa Cruz County nonprofits creating a variance

6 min read

Building healthful foods choices is an significant everyday living talent that way too a lot of kids just never get the chance to discover. But what if young ones were being given the prospect to assistance improve or cook their very own food items? Would they undertake healthier consuming routines that past a life time, and even lead to the wellbeing and wellbeing of other folks in their neighborhood?

Kids with the nonprofit Food What?!

FoodWhat?! students, Spring 2021


Individuals doing work with academic nonprofits in Santa Cruz County imagine that remedy is sure. Lifestyle Lab, Farm Discovery at Are living Earth, Teenager Kitchen Venture, and FoodWhat?! are four regional corporations that all share the prevalent purpose of teaching youngsters the value of healthier having. Even though each individual corporation has a diverse concentrate and target age-group, all 4 are doing the job right with K-12 youngsters to train foods literacy—understanding how our food possibilities influence us and our environment—in equally digital and hands-on settings.

Kids picking fruit in the field

Young children in the field with Farm Discovery at Dwell Earth

(Farm Discovery)

Finding out from the ground up

“There’s a dependable human body of analysis that demonstrates that offering children the option to learn about growing food firsthand aids them acquire lifelong balanced ingesting behavior that help wellness,” states Don Burgett, co-government director for Everyday living Lab, an group that operates with general public elementary faculties in Santa Cruz and Watsonville to create on-website veggie gardens that serve as out of doors classrooms.

“Pulling carrots out of the ground, choosing tomatoes, or harvesting Swiss chard brings out kids’ natural curiosity and creates a a great deal higher openness to making an attempt new foodstuff.”

It is not uncommon for kids—some of whom might working experience food insecurity at home—to come upon new meals and preferences for the to start with time in garden or farm-centered classrooms like those people they invest time in through Lifetime Lab, Farm Discovery at Stay Earth, and FoodWhat?! programs. With time, those people regular encounters with new-from-the-area veggies can evolve into healthful foodstuff tastes, as perfectly as a bigger comprehension of how sustainable farming impacts the well being of our ecosystem.

Girl with potatoes they harvested

“Food is so linked to our overall health,” suggests Jessica Ridgeway, executive director at Farm Discovery at Dwell Earth. “The way we expand foods has a great deal to do with how nutritious that food items can be.” At Stay Earth’s 150-acre farm in Watsonville, little ones of all ages understand about soil, composting, and how natural and organic and regenerative farming techniques can positively impact equally a food’s nutrient amount as effectively as our atmosphere as a total. “Kids are keen to master about soil, how it retains drinking water, and all the very good bugs” that add to a full ecology, states Ridgeway. That fascination obviously extends to the greens as they occur out of the floor. “It’s pretty much like magic,” she claims. “As before long as young children are in the subject, they are prepared to check out lots of new meals that they wouldn’t always consider at home.”

Cooking for great

Little girl holding a plate of salad she made

Teaching kids about meals as it grows is an crucial portion of supporting youngsters get nutritious having habits similarly essential is educating little ones how to put together nutritious foods. At Teenager Kitchen Job, kids gain authentic-entire world, arms-on experience getting ready hundreds of wholesome foods for individuals in the group combating crucial ailment these kinds of as cancer. At FoodWhat?!, teens shell out time in the kitchen understanding to get ready meals with the food they’ve served mature in the field—and then consider that information household to their households.

“Empowering youth to acquire healthy interactions with foods, and to see foods as medicine, is seriously central to supporting them improve their perfectly-currently being.”

— Kayla Kumar, FoodWhat?!

Preserving education going

Kid with tractor

As nonprofits, all four organizations depend heavily on aid from men and women and businesses in the community to continue to keep their education courses likely. In addition to building direct donations, mom and dad can volunteer to assistance preserve yard lecture rooms, go to subject-to-farm gain dinners, and indication up to guidance distinct companies by way of their employer matching courses. Browsing shops who prioritize area offering is a different fantastic way to make assist.

Donation applications from shops like New Leaf Local community Markets’ Envirotokens—which “rewards” shoppers with donation tokens for bringing their personal bags—are especially essential to supporting these neighborhood nonprofits bridge funding gaps, states FoodWhat?!’s Kumar. “Envirotokens delivers a devoted supply of funding for us that permits us to target on the programs we provide and assembly the requirements of our youth alternatively than obtaining to emphasis so a lot on raising funds.”

Farmers and their tractor

Robin Nardello, Neighborhood Relations Expert at New Leaf, sees supporting these foodstuff instruction nonprofits as an expense in our children’s upcoming. “Teaching young ones early about where by our food stuff will come from, how it’s grown, and the many delicious strategies to get ready it can direct young ones to make much healthier possibilities as older people.”

Kids painting at the farm

Farm Discovery at Are living Earth’s Ridgeway thinks teaching foodstuff literacy can also guide to extra peaceful communities. “Gathering around refreshing food stuff and ingesting alongside one another helps us make much better relationships,” she states. “Better associations guide to significantly less conflict, significantly less conflict builds have faith in, and have confidence in builds much healthier communities.”

Farm Discovery at Live Earth

Dwell Earth Farms works by using its nonprofit Farm Discovery program to educate kids as young as five wherever food will come from, and how our food decisions impact our personal health and fitness and the overall health of our environment. An array of packages, ranging from summer months camps and discipline journeys to particular activities offer you young children enjoyable, interactive things to do in farming, artwork, cooking, wild-crafting, and character exploration.

Food What logo


Established in 2007, FoodWhat?! performs with Existence Earth Farms, UCSC, and Lakeside Natural and organic Gardens to put teens in charge of developing meals on devoted plots of land. The nonprofit—run fully by graduates of the FoodWhat?! Youth leadership program—empowers superior college-age little ones to understand about the sophisticated social problems encompassing access to healthful, contemporary food items. The teenagers also find out sustainable farming techniques, how to get ready wholesome foods with the food stuff they develop, and achieve genuine-entire world career capabilities and practical experience. An added benefit—teens are encouraged to just take household the CSA bins they support pack for distribution so nutritious, clean foodstuff get to their people, far too.

Everyday living Lab

Everyday living Lab presents educators and curriculum (as well as instructor education programs) for facilitating “plant-to-plate” learning. Life Lab begun its initially classroom at Green Acres Elementary in 1979 to day, the nonprofit has established identical gardens at seven area elementary colleges in the Pajaro Valley, Are living Oak, and Santa Cruz School Districts and will make its curriculum readily available to educational facilities throughout the U.S. It is now performing to make its on-web-site back garden classrooms even additional obtainable to youngsters all over the day—and not just throughout periods of instruction.

Teen Kitchen Project

With professional kitchens in Soquel and Watsonville, Teenager Kitchen Undertaking sales opportunities teenagers in cooking wholesome, nourishing foods for area people in will need. Adult volunteers supply the foods the teens assist prepare to these struggling from lifetime-threatening diseases. The teenagers find out beneficial arms-on cooking capabilities whilst getting an appreciation for wholesome having and supplying a essential neighborhood company in the course of action.