Kentucky schools teach nutrition with hands-on-learning

Visiting dairy cows, growing food in the air and being the first school in the state to grow its own garden on school grounds are just some of the efforts Kentucky schools are making to help their students learn more about nutrition.

Shelby County’s Heritage Elementary School joined schools in 40 countries in the 15th annual World School Milk Day on Sept. 24, where they learned about the nutritional importance of milk, Ashley Wilkins reports for The Sentinel-News of Shelbyville.

The students learned from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association in the cafeteria, which was decorated in a cow-related theme while the cafeteria employees wore cow costumes and provided milk to the students. The students also enjoyed stick-on milk mustaches and were able to pet and view calves outside on the playground.

“Lots of kids don’t have a lot of opportunities to see dairy cows up close,” SUIDA’s Kathy Belcher told Wilkins.

Students in the Eastern Elementary School Wellness Club in Barren County are learning about nutrition not only in this club, but with its hydroponic tower garden, adding a second one this week, Bobbie Hayse reports for the Glasgow Daily Times.

The Wellness Club meeting was led by fourth-grade teacher Cathy Bishop, who asked the students if they had talked to their parents about what they had been learning about health. They also talked about who had met their goal of not drinking any sodas that week, and also about the importance of making healthy choices such as getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of water, making good food choices, exercising and limiting screen time.

“We need to try to make healthy choices, and try to take care of our bodies the best we can because this is the only body we get,” Bishop said. “The habits we start today are going to make a difference for the way our body feels a long time down the road from now.”

Nutritional learning in the club is reinforced with growing plants in the tower gardens, which are vertical systems that grows food hydroponically with aeroponics, a process for growing food in an air and water environment, Hayse reports.

Jennifer Turner, a dietitian who helped the students plant seeds and build the tower garden, told Hayse, “Research shows that if kids have a hand in growing and making food, they are more likely to try it.”

Beaver Dam Elementary School in Ohio County is the first school in the state to have a garden on school grounds, through donations from businesses and individuals, Lisa Autry reports for WKU Public Radio.

Kindergarten teacher Becky Gaither, who helped start the garden project, told Autry that “students learn the value of hard work by maintaining the garden and they get to enjoy the harvest.” She said that the students had already made pizzas in the classroom with cherry tomatoes and herbs harvested from the garden.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer visited the school on Thursday to recognize the school as having the state’s first certified “Ready, Set, Grow” garden and said he hoped the “concept will expand statewide,” Autry reports.

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