Sunday, September 26, 2010

Helping Kids Eat Healthy

I am a very lucky mom. Not only do I have a great kid but she also eats, and eats well.

Many times mommy friends confide in me about their kids, upset and frustrated because their little ones don’t eat much or eat well. I feel bad when they tell me this because Sarah does eat well and healthy too. She likes vegetables and fruits and eats them often.

While Sarah is only two and a half, this is the right time in her life to establish an interest for healthy foods and good eating habits to help ready her for when she goes to school and as she grows.

Eating healthy can also impact a child’s learning, as it provides quality nourishment to their growing and developing brains.

I could see Sarah really wanting to have her own garden. It can become a fun activity for us to do together over time. In fact, she did just recently ask if we could have a pink flower garden. So, maybe a fruit and veggie garden is not too far away for us.

For families that live in urban areas without backyards, just like we do, consider creating small gardens with flower pots or planters and not be discouraged from this fun healthy learning and engaging experience should open ground not be available for planting.

It just so happens that a grant program from Welch’s®, Scholastic Parent & Child magazine and the National Gardening Association was announced this month to help get healthy eating on track for youngsters.

According to a press release by these organizations, schools with kindergarten through eighth grade around the country have the opportunity to apply for funds to foot the bill for a student-run garden including seeds, tools, and educational materials. As part of this announcement they are encouraging families to take the “Healthy Eating Pledge.”

Sounds like a pretty neat idea.

We can all take a pledge to eat healthy. I certainly know that I can.

This could become an opportunity to help our kids eat healthy. And, if your child is anything like mine (Miss Independent) the idea of having a personalized garden to eat from could be very appealing.

The purpose and value of this program provides thousands of children “the opportunity to learn the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet and gain a heightened awareness of what they eat and where it comes from by planting and growing fruit and vegetable gardens at school.”

I also think, especially for us moms with preschoolers to consider the concept of an at home garden an option to consider and implement to improve and establish healthy eating habits early on.

For more about this program visit Welch's website. There are also fun games on the site as well to check out to help get us started or how to continue on the path to healthy eating habits.

I thought you might be interested to know the impact that this program had in its first year, 2009. One hundred schools were awarded gardening packages as a result of this effort and well over 12,500 kids including parents, educators and members of the community got involved in developing school-based gardens.

“Students want fresh food from the garden, and they ask for it!” comments Holly Orians from the West MI Academy of Environmental Science, Michigan, a Welch’s Harvest Grants winning school. “The food service only has to say ‘This is from the garden’ and the kids are lined up to get the veggies! We’ve seen improved science scores across the board and also students’ reactions to the outdoors.”

“Of the schools that participated in last year’s program, an amazing 17% reported an improvement in test scores which they attributed to the presence of a gardening curriculum,” comments Mike Metallo, President of National Gardening and KidsGardening.Org.

Overall, this program is not just classroom-based. It helps provide necessary tools for families to establish healthy eating habits into their every day lives.

The release states that “participating families have the opportunity to win a garden a day through September and October, as well as a grand prize to experience farming first-hand on a Welch’s family farm, where the Concord and Niagara grapes that are used to make Welch’s delicious juices and other grape-based products are grown.”

So, let’s all take a stand and make a PLEDGE to healthier eating with our kids by going to the Welch’s Facebook Fan page.

I have already signed up and look forward to getting started.

Good luck. Enjoy! And, here's to happy and healthy eating with our kids.

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