Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are a few examples of school gardens that are helping rejuvenate school lunches and help young students understand the significance of food and nutrition. 

• What are ways that you can support sustainable school community gardens? Does your local school system promote or implement gardening initiatives? 

• Learn more about the benefits of school gardens on students. 

School meals can be one of the most important sources of nutrition for children around the world. The U.N. World Food Programme estimates that nearly half of all schoolchildren in low- and middle-income nations — about 310 million kids — eat a meal daily at school.

Around the globe, schools are beginning to focus on where the food in their cafeterias comes from. They are creating school gardens and boosting agriculture education to show students how to grow nutritious food crops, as well as how to cook, share, and enjoy them at mealtimes.

The impact of school gardens on children’s nutritional and academic well-being is significant: studies show that in schools that provide frequent hands-on education, students eat triple the fruits and vegetables during lunch than do students who don’t get food learning opportunities. Garden-based learning is also associated with consistently higher academic performance in not only science but also mathematics and language arts.

Food Tank is highlighting 16 initiatives that are helping students understand the food system by using school gardens to boost lunchtime meal programs.

  1. Garden to Café Program, Texas, U.S. The Austin Independent School District (AISD) Garden to Café program provides schools with support and resources to serve food grown in school gardens directly in cafeteria meals.
  2. Fresh Roots’ Schoolyard Market Gardens, Canada A partnership between the Vancouver School Board and the organization Fresh Roots led to the creation of Schoolyard Market Gardens, which are operational educational farms where students can learn and share knowledge about food, health, and even leadership and employment skills without leaving their school grounds.
  3. Purchase from Africans for Africa Program, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Senegal The Purchase from Africans for Africa Program (PAA) links smallholder farmers with local schools in five countries—Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Senegal.

Read the full article about school gardens revitalizing school lunches by Danielle Nierenberg at Food Tank.