July 2, 2019
If started early, healthy habits can create positive lifelong routines. That's why Calgary Co-op is pleased to support Garden 2 Plate, a community-based program that teaches parents and children from disadvantaged families about not just healthy eating, but about how to grow healthy food too.
Garden 2 Plate is a new program developed through Mount Royal University, with support from CUPS and Calgary Co-op. It teaches young children and their families how to plant a small family garden, and how to care for and tend to the plants and soil. The program also teaches families how to choose and prepare those vegetables in the kitchen.
"It's twelve weeks long to allow people to experience the whole growing season, and to create an experiential learning environment," explains Sonya Jakubec, Director, Centre for Child Wellbeing at Mount Royal University. "They learn about the soil, and how to grow healthy things, about the growing cycle, and then what you can grow, cook, and eat. So many families say their kids never eat anything green at home and here in the garden they're picking and nibbling raw veggies. It's about building those new habits."
The Garden 2 Plate program helped ten families in its first year, and this year has nearly 40 families involved. The diverse families, including newcomers to Canada, work as a group with a horticultural therapist and a registered dietician to get hands-on, and learn about healthy food—from garden to table.
"We're using two sites; the Sunalta Community Association and community garden, as well as the One World Child Development Centre at CUPS," says Jakubec.
Jakubec says sponsors including Calgary Co-op, make the initiative possible.
"What's in it for Calgary Co-op and its members, is that when you grow food literate young people, you have lifelong healthy consumers and a healthier generation. It's a really great social contribution Co-op is making. The support from Co-op has meant we've been able to help build and develop those garden spaces, and that was crucial to the project even being able to run."
Jakubec says the program is already seeing successes and progress from the families, and that makes her and her research team proud.
"We know how important it is for children to learn healthy food habits early on. The Garden 2 Plate program teaches kids growing your own food is fun and rewarding; it also shows them the delicious variety and tastes that healthy eating can have," shares Penney McTaggart-Cowan, Vice President of Marketing and Member Experiences at Calgary Co-op. "Plus, healthy food makes great fuel for growing minds and bodies."
For more information of the Garden 2 Plate program visit the website.
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