April 28, 2015
Contact: Linda Zintz, communications director, 619-847-6637
Military Children Learn Healthy Eating Habits through Gardening Thanks to DoDEA Grant
The San Diego Unified School District received a $2.5 million, three-year Operation Learn and Thrive grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to help more than 3,000 students in five elementary schools learn about good nutrition and raise English Language Arts proficiency. Under the grant, school gardens were created at Angier, Chesterton, Hancock, Miller and Mason. All of these schools have a high percentage of students from active-duty military families. More than 1,171 students in grades 2, 4 and 5 receive monthly instruction from a UC San Diego Center for Community Health instructor that teaches healthy eating habits through educational, garden-based lessons. The Operation Learn and Thrive grant is administered by San Diego Unified School District's Office of Children and Youth in Transition.
When: Tuesday, April 28
11:35-12:05 p.m. – Garden Lesson and interviews
· April is the Month of the Military Child. This awareness month was established to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces community.
· More than 6 percent of students enrolled in the San Diego Unified School District are military dependents. Some struggle academically or socially due to frequent transfers, and many do not have access to healthy foods on a regular basis. Operation Learn and Thrive teaches children how to grow their own food and empowers youth by promoting overall wellness through outdoor, hand's-on lessons.
· An estimated 2 million children in the past decade have experienced stress related to deployment, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Childhood obesity and literacy problems are national, but can be even greater challenges for military dependents, "our youngest heroes."
· San Diego is home to the nation's largest concentration of military personnel - with more than 100,000 active duty service members.
Where: Miller Elementary School, 4343 Shields St., San Diego, CA 92124
· 4th grade students
· Invited military parents
· Tammy Kearney, Teacher
· Fred Hilgers, Vice Principal
· Vanessa Peters, Program Manager, San Diego Unified Office of Children and Youth in Transition
· Shawn Gary, Grant Coordinator, San Diego Unified Office of Children and Youth in Transition
· Meredith Petersen, Program Coordinator, UCSD Center for Community Health
· Children harvesting spinach grown in their school garden.
· Children mixing healthy, colorful ingredients into a hand-crank blender to create a "bunny rabbit" smoothie.
· Children and invited military parents learning about nutrition and gardening.
· Vice Principal, children, teacher and UCSD Center for Community Health available for interviews.
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