BETHLEHEM Glenmont Elementary School students may soon be snacking on some healthier food options they helped growth themselves.
In a continued effort to help promote nutrition guidelines and a healthier lifestyle, the Capital Region American Heart Association chose Glenmont Elementary as the first school to host a Teaching Garden on its campus. Also sponsored by Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, the school was provided with the equipment and teaching materials needed for students to create their own vegetable garden.
“This is an important lessen for our students,” said Principal Laura Heffernan. “Children don’t always have the best relationship with where their food comes from. It’s important for them to know it doesn’t always come from a shelf at Price Chopper.”
An official “Planting Day” to showcase the students’ hard work was held on Wednesday, May 23.
Heffernan said the school has partnered for years with the American Heart Association in raising money for at organization’s annual Hoops for Heart fundraiser. As one of the region’s top earning schools, Glenmont Elementary was selected as the right place to start the Teaching Garden initiative.
In April, fifth-grade classes began building the wooden boxes for the garden, which were donated through the program. Fourth-grade classes then worked to fill the boxes with dirt and later partnered with second-grade classes to help plant the seedlings. Later, the garden was decorated with a birdbath and painted rocks to mark the rows of vegetables.
According to the American Heart Association, due to poor diet today’s children are not expected to live as long as their parents and almost no children in the United States ages five to 19 have ideal health as it relates to the Healthy Diet Score, a system that rates the numbers of healthy servings of food a person eats each day.
The new Teaching Garden program is designed to encourage a healthy diet along with portion control and lessons about where food comes from to help combat childhood obesity rates. According to Kathleen Kozera Rowe, a Capital Region AHA board member and regional manager of the Mayo Medical Laboratories, the curriculum challenges students to make small changes to improve their health.