From guest blogger Nirvi Shah:
At 32 daycare centers in West Virginia, kids will have pint-sized gardening tools, soil, and pots so they can cultivate container gardens.
Each center will get a two-year grant to grow strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, bush beans, basil, cilantro, and chives.
Toddlers and the pre-K set won’t just get to dig in the dirt: The produced harvested will be incorporated into the daycare centers’ food programs and used for taste tests, with the goal of growing the kids’ taste for these fruits, veggies, and herbs.
The sites chosen for the pilot program all participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
West Virginia’s move is one of many underway to connect kids with where their food comes from and to ply their palates for fresh fruits and vegetables. Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Girl Scouts and school kids to help her plant the White House garden.
“Exposing young children to the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables can help them develop lifelong healthy eating habits,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple said. “Good nutrition can fuel academic success throughout a student’s academic career.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.