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Students learn nutrition, gardening at Food Day

News Release Distributed 10/25/12

BATON ROUGE, La. – Students at Glasgow Middle School streamed out of their gymnasium with hands full of fruit, vegetables, seeds and sandwiches. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were participating in the school’s Food Day program.

Food Day, celebrated on Oct. 24, is a nationwide movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Kiki Fontenot handed tools to students to help them start a salad.

“Our booth is there to show kids how to plant lettuce,” she said. “They are taking home a little cup of lettuce seeds to grow.”

Before learning how to grow food, the youngsters learned about the importance of eating healthy from U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. The congressman, a medical doctor, told the students about the importance of choosing wheat over white bread, fruits over French fries.

“If you eat a lot of French fries, then go out and play. They may give you a short-term energy boost, but you’ll probably end up feeling worse,” Cassidy said.

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor President Kip Holden had a similar message.

“We need to get them to understand that they have to make good choices,” Holden said. “What they eat now is likely to have a long-term impact on their lives.”

Sixth-grader Karina Tesson said the experience makes her want to change her eating habits. “I usually eat a lot of junk food, but I think I should eat healthier now,” she said.

Jahmad Peters, also in sixth grade, realized the importance of healthy eating. “If I eat healthier, I can have a longer and better life,” he said.

The Food Day event didn’t focus solely on good nutrition. Students also learned about food access.

“There are a lot of areas of our parish that are considered food desert areas – where people are having a hard time getting access to food,” said Karen Stevens, LSU AgCenter nutritionist.

The school collected canned goods for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Mike Manning, the Food Bank’s president and CEO said it was rewarding to see kids worried about others in their community, pointing out that the Food Bank serves many children, just like them.

“When children are hungry, they don’t learn as well. They may be disruptive in class,” Manning said.

The school put together a team of “Edugators” – a play on their mascot, the gator – to help plan the event.

“We try to teach others how to eat healthy, so they don’t get sick and unhealthy,” seventh-grader and “Edugator” Alexis Pierre said.

Tobie Blanchard

Last Updated: 10/25/2012 3:11:53 PM

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