Students at a Franklin elementary school are going to learn how to grow vegetables and then take them home to eat.
Counselor Samantha Vidal wants guest speakers and special activities to teach some Creekside Elementary School students how to eat healthy.
The school has had a nutrition club for years. Club members could take home a bag stuffed with nonperishable foods every weekend. In some cases, their families struggled to feed their kids over the weekend, Vidal has said.
A grant given to the club by the Franklin Education Connection will allow students to start their own garden at school and take home the food they grow.
“Now we are going to add counseling and education,” Vidal said.
Part of the reason Vidal’s grant application stood out was because of the approach she proposes, said Bea Northcott, executive director of the Franklin Education Connection.
“It was not just students receiving food, they are learning about food and nutrition,” she said “We wanted to award that creativity.”
Vidal’s vision for the club has expanded since the food backpack program started in 2011. She now wants to include an educational element to the club.
Some of the food about 40 students take home weekly is non perishable and fills them up. Those students weren’t necessarily getting fresh fruits and vegetables, Vidal said.
“I wanted to focus on nutrition, healthy, fresh foods too,” she said.
In the new garden, students will harvest the food and take it home along with the bag of food they get weekly.
Their garden will start small, with some herbs and peppers dotting the soil at first. Eventually, the garden will grow to include more substantial vegetables such as tomatoes or zucchini, she said.
Part of the club’s expansion is teaching students what is nutricious and what is not.
Guest speakers will come and chat with the kids during their meetings to get the message out. Those speakers will help teach them about how to make smart eating choices.
“Sometimes some of the tasty foods kids like aren’t the healthiest,” she said. “I want them to understand about nutrition and healthier food, in order for them to feel the best, they have to take care of their bodies.”
Part of the goal in starting a garden is to show students what they can do over an extended period of time, she said.
“I want kids to enjoy school and feel proud of themselves,” Vidal said. “We want our students to be well-rounded people.”