Gardens at schools, day care centers to help kids learn healthy eating habits

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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on November 29, 2021

Gardens at schools, day care centers to help kids learn healthy eating habits

Tidelands Health is helping plant a seed for healthier eating habits in Georgetown County schools and child-care centers.

Students at Sampit Elementary School plant in the garden built on school grounds through a new program by Tidelands Health, LiveWell Georgetown County and Clemson Cooperative Extension.In partnership with LiveWell Georgetown County and Clemson Cooperative Extension, the not-for-profit health system is rolling out a program to help create on-site gardens at schools and centers by providing all-inclusive kits with the tools needed to get the garden in the ground and help it grow.

The goal is to help educate children about healthy eating by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables from their gardens. Because the kids take an active role in planting, maintaining the gardens and harvesting the fruits and vegetables of their labor, it will help plant the seed to sustain these healthy eating habits for years to come.

“We can talk all day about the importance of healthy eating habits, but when children can take an active, hands-on role in the education, it means so much more,” said Kelly Kaminski, senior director of community health resources at Tidelands Health.

The garden kits were funded by LiveWell Georgetown County, a local coalition led by Tidelands Health that uses evidence-based interventions to advance health promotion through all stages of life, with a strong focus on nutrition and obesity prevention, improved physical activity and reducing the incidence and severity of chronic diseases.

Seven schools and child-care centers are participating in the first phase of the program’s rollout, including Sunshine Place Daycare and Preschool, Pawleys Island Christian Academy, Sampit Community Child Care Center, Sampit Elementary School and Small Minds of Tomorrow, among others. Teachers and educators who will oversee the garden at each school or center attend a special training class before planting begins.

“This is a fun project for the kids – for all of us,” said Molly Tisdale, a teacher at Sampit Elementary School who is overseeing the school’s garden. “The kids have been so excited to get the garden going, and it’s a joy to watch them work in the dirt knowing the healthy habits they are learning. It brings to life the lessons found in our books. We are already looking forward to our next delivery for the garden.”

The initial garden kits include the planters, garden tools for child-sized hands and small plantings and seeds. Plants and seeds will be delivered regularly to keep the garden fresh, with the next deliveries of kale and other winter season varieties expected soon.

In addition to establishing healthy eating habits early in life, the program aims to expand education about planting, growing and harvesting to help sustain those healthy eating habits through the years. The fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from the gardens can be used in the schools’ menu or distributed to students to take home.

“These gardens, carefully maintained at each school, will continue to teach lessons and bear fruits and vegetables for the kids for years to come,” Kaminski said.

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Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.