It's Okay to play with your food

"We teach kids about good eating; we get them out being active and exercising," said Forester. "It provides a counter to sitting in front of a video game and not doing things."

While the fun started in the summer, Forester said during the school year they would work with schools to start plants in the classroom. The tied into what children were learning in the classroom. For instance, at each site there was a "three sisters" garden following the Native American tradition of growing corns, beans and squash.

Forester said in order for the program to be a success, the children needed youth role models.

"The interns really seem to enjoy it too," said Mattis. "They had a lot of groundbreaking to do with starting this curriculum and program."

SICM summer intern Abby Foster, 21, from the College of Saint Rose, was assigned to the Wallingford Park site.

"I like seeing the excitement of the kids to help in the garden and take the vegetables home and eat them," said Foster.

Four to eight children would come to help in the garden each day, said Foster, who is an education major. Some children would show up randomly, but there were others who were regulars.

One of the children in the program, 12-year-old Philip, said he liked that the garden was available and he could pick stuff from it.

"It's summer; we don't really have anything else to do," he said.

Over the course of the program, many children became attached to the interns, said Mattis.

"They tended to look up to the student interns running the program and the connected to them very early, so it was a positive experience for them," said Mattis. "The kids, by the end of the program, were clinging to them and not wanting them to leave."

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