POMEROY — Statistics show that across the country, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
It is recognized as a problem in Meigs County Schools, where efforts are being made to combat the problem through the Meigs County Health Department’s Child and Family Health Services Program, which is funded through the Ohio Department of Health.
“Although healthy behaviors typically start at home, schools play a critical role in helping kids to establish these lifelong habits, too. When schools have an environment that not only teaches healthy behaviors, but also practices them, it helps reinforce these important concepts to our kids. Healthy habits can become part of everyday life, just as bad habits can” said Juli Simpson, CFHS program director for the Meigs County Health Department.
Simpson said the CFHS program has linked with all three Meigs County school districts this school year to help provide a nutrition curriculum titled “Veggie U.” The program was described as being “special and different” in that the material is grounded in lessons in language arts, math, fine arts and social studies.
Simpson said the “Veggie U” program helps to increase kids’ awareness of healthy food options and the importance of sustainable agriculture. They get to learn about the “seed to harvest” concept that allows them to see, hear, taste, feel and experience the process of planting, growing and harvesting a crop in their own classroom.
Southern Local’s third-grade science teacher, Jenni Roush, said “Veggie U” was an integral part of plant science unit.
“It enabled our third graders to delve deep into the Common Core curriculum,” she said. “‘Veggie U’ involved many hands-on activities that the students looked forward to each day as a part of our plant science unit.I’m so appreciative to Juli and the CFHS program for helping to provide this great learning experience to our students.”
“Veggie U” curriculums are also being conducted at Eastern Elementary School and Meigs Intermediate School.
During the kickoff week of the “Veggie U” lessons, classrooms received several unique vegetables for the students and teachers to taste-test. The seed planting activities and worm farms also seemed to be popular with the students, Simpson said.
The “Veggie U” program is described as a “turn-key program of 25 lessons and hands-on activities to engage and excite their students.There is a classroom garden kit that helps students understand the importance of eating well. The program is also geared to help parents continue the discussion at home with recipes, games, suggested reading and conversation.
To date it has been taught in more than 4,700 classrooms across 32 states and Washington, D.C.