If gardens create communities, then gardens in schools create opportunities.
According to the REAL School Gardens organization, a group dedicated to changing schools with gardening space that provides fresh new ways to teach and learn, teacher effectiveness and satisfaction rates can increase by as much as 50 percent with a school garden.
For students, that translates even more, providing educational opportunities that will enhance a healthy lifestyle, promote environmental stewardship, take pride in community development, and ultimately be a source of academic achievement.
So if school gardens are good for teachers and students, are they also good for school nutrition programs?
The answer is a resounding, "Yes."
For more than a decade, we've heard about the farm-to-table movement and have seen it permeate our day-to-day culinary experiences.
That trend has evolved, and it exists today in a growing number of California and Nevada school nutrition programs as part of a movement we like to call playground-to-plate.
The Benefits of School Gardens for School Nutrition Directors
THE ABILITY TO EDUCATE
We think of school as periods and classes, with one reserved every day for lunch. What we don't often think about, though, and what is lost on many school districts despite the urging of nutrition directors, is the use of the lunch period as a way to educate.
School gardens are a way to teach basic horticulture and agriculture. They're a way to talk about food waste, as well as ways to prevent it. And at the end of the day, a school garden is a case study on biology.
THE ABILITY TO NOURISH
When schools have gardens next to the ball fields, they have the ability to pull fresh, seasonal vegetables right into the kitchen.
While a school garden will rarely be large enough to sustain an entire school over the course of the year, having days or menus dedicated to the use of ingredients from those gardens can provide healthy nourishment and pique students' interests in healthy eating in the future.
THE ABILITY TO ENCOURAGE INTEREST AND INCREASE PARTICIPATION
We understand that school nutrition programs need to do everything they can to keep students engaged in the service and to participate in the program.
School gardens are a great way to encourage interest in a lunch program on a deeper level. When students are invested emotionally and academically in what's being served, they're more likely to participate in the service.
A School Nutrition Equipment Resource Who Knows Your Challenges:
Pro Reps West is dedicated to our local communities and to making our school nutrition programs more cost effective, more nutritious, and more enjoyable for our students. In order to do this, having the right foodservice equipment for your school cafeteria is very important.