During the 2015-16 school year, more than 5,349 students attended garden-based lessons with Fit4Kids during the school day at 13 sites through the generosity of the Anthem Foundation. Fit4Kids reached 10 Title I schools and 3 non-Title 1 schools in Henrico, Richmond, Chesterfield, and Hopewell. Learning Gardens engage children in planting, growing, harvesting, and best of all, tasting fresh, flavorful food—changing the way children feel about vegetables.
At the end of the school year, students at each partner school were interviewed for their feedback on the garden program. During the survey period, 170 students were interviewed and 100% of students reported that they enjoyed learning in the garden. Students were also asked what they liked about learning in the garden, 55% of students reported their favorite part was cooking and tasting new foods, 34% reported their favorite part was planting and harvesting, and 11% reported their favorite part was being outside. A Marguerite Christian Elementary School 5th grader described learning in the garden as, “pretty fun because you get to do multiple things. It’s not just talking about it, you get to eat and talk about science behind plants.”
Twice during the school year, Fit4Kids administered surveys to teachers to gain insights into their perception of the learning garden program and its value as a learning tool. In June, 98% of teachers reported students attain the following skills as a result of the learning garden lessons: healthy eating/nutrition information, gardening skills, science skills, and math skills.
At a sample of partner schools, parents were also surveyed. 71% report that their child has changed eating habits as a result of the program. “Teaching children about fitness and healthy eating is great. However, giving them the opportunity to experience it hands on is even better.” – Marguerite Christian Elementary School Parent
During the 2015-2016 school year more than 18,117 fruit and vegetable samples were served to students in the garden. 72% of students reported interest in trying the fruit or vegetable sample again. Samples included kale salad, root crop salad, dried okra, dried pears, sautéed cauliflower and broccoli, Swiss chard with tomato, onion and garlic and many more fresh garden ingredients! During student survey interviews, students recalled sampling arugula, dinosaur tongue kale, dill, mustard blends, radishes and the list goes on! An Elizabeth Scott 1st grade student described the experience as, “It’s like you eating a fruit for the first time and loving it!”
In addition to getting thousands of students’ hands dirty in the garden during the school year, Fit4Kids hosted Summer Garden Academies at 4 sites in the region, including 3 elementary schools and 1 middle school. 82 students were exposed to experiential cooking, garden maintenance and tastings. Each site structured the program differently to reach students and make garden learning a part of the summer enrichment curriculum. Students had the opportunity to get dirty while learning about the connection to their food. One student shared a story of pulling a purple carrot from the ground. The farmer used the carrot in the salad that was served with apples, sweet peppers and greens and the students could not believe the carrot tasted the same as an orange carrot and even had orange in the middle. Students greatly enjoyed their time in the garden. A Falling Creek Elementary School student pointed out, “we get messy and dirty and that is really fun!”
None of this would have been possible without the support of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation! We are so very grateful to have had another fun year in the garden!
About Anthem Blue Cross Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses it’s funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as it’s Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.