Steuben County

4-H students building a robot

3rd Graders Encouraged to Eat Their Way to Better Health

October 6, 2016

We know that healthy food provides the energy and nutrients young people need to be healthy.  Lack of education regarding the definition of healthy food poses a problem.  Nearly all school age children rely on their caregivers for subsistence but often they make their own decisions about what they will eat or discard while at school.  Of the 50 states, Kids Count statistics show that in 2016  Indiana ranked 31st in regards to overall child health.  According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 32.7% of Steuben County adults are considered obese.  If not redirected at an early age, generational obesity could curse those who remain uneducated about proper nutrition.  Gardening can increase activity, reduce screen time, and lead to a healthier diet.

The 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator, the Health and Human Sciences Extension Educator, and the Ag and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator of the Purdue Extension Office utilized their talents to implement “Eat Your Way to Better Health” at Carlin Park Elementary, a school in which over 50% of the students receive free or reduced lunches. Forty-five 3rd grade students gardened and learned about healthy eating.

Youth were provided lessons on resource management (spending wisely when building a garden with limited funds), healthier snack options (fat, sugar, and salt in favorite kid’s snack foods), eating a rainbow (phytonutrients), the process of food (how food gets from the farm to the table), edible plant parts, and food safety.

The youth learned new vocabulary in regards to seeds and plants. They dissected hydrolyzed lima beans and compared and contrasted them to dry beans, and they made a Living Seed Necklace in which we discussed the items needed for a seed to germinate and a plant to grow. They also discovered soil structure, plant life cycles, plant competition, insect diversity, and plant diseases. The students observed the harvested produce and celebrated their learning by eating a colorful salad containing roots, stems, leaves, and flowers.

The 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator, the Healthy and Human Sciences Extension Educator, and the Ag and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator of the Purdue Extension Office utilized their talents to implement “Eat Your Way to Better Health” at Carlin Park Elementary, a school in which over 50% of the students receive free or reduced lunches. Forty-five 3rd grade students gardened and learned about healthy eating.

Youth were provided lessons on resource management (spending wisely when building a garden with limited funds), healthier snack options (fat, sugar, and salt in favorite kid’s snack foods), eating a rainbow (phytonutrients), the process of food (how food gets from the farm to the table), edible plant parts, and food safety.

The youth learned new vocabulary in regards to seeds and plants. They dissected hydrolyzed lima beans and compared and contrasted them to dry beans, and they made a Living Seed Necklace in which we discussed the items needed for a seed to germinate and a plant to grow. They also discovered soil structure, plant life cycles, plant competition, insect diversity, and plant diseases. The students observed the harvested produce and celebrated their learning by eating a colorful salad containing roots, stems, leaves, and flowers.

Outcomes:

27 Youth will consume more healthy foods such as: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds

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