Planting the Seeds for Healthy Kids at Eucalyptus Elementary - Action for Healthy Kids
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Planting the Seeds for Healthy Kids at Eucalyptus Elementary

Eucalyptus Elementary School
Hawthorne, California

From transitional kindergarten through fifth grade, students at Eucalyptus Elementary School have quite literally been enjoying the fruits—and vegetables—of their labor. During the 2018–2019 academic year, thanks to a generous grant from Action for Healthy Kids, the school was able to strengthen the link between classroom and cafeteria through an expanded offering of gardening classes, nutrition workshops, and taste tests.

Students have harvested cabbage, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, while parents and community members have graciously donated cherry tomatoes and fennel as well as a watermelon plant and peach tree. Lupe Morales hosted a special taste test for her daughter’s kindergarten class, with citrus—blood oranges, grapefruits, and mandarin oranges—picked straight from her family’s fruit trees. While used primarily for teaching purposes, families are invited to take full advantage of Eucalyptus’s learning garden, where they can harvest various produce to be enjoyed at dinnertime.

“I love that the school takes the time to grow so much and teach the kids the importance of gardening and healthy eating,” parent Joyce Liwanag shares. “I love to see the kids harvest the fruits and veggies that were in the garden. My daughter saves the seeds from her fruits and asks me to plant them at her grandma’s house.”

Committed to fostering a healthy, positive, and safe school environment, with a comprehensive social-emotional approach that meets student needs, Eucalyptus has also implemented active recess initiatives, anti-bullying efforts, and a Safe Routes to School program, which encourages students and parents to walk and bicycle to and from school, with support from the Hawthorne Police Department.

As part of Every Kid Healthy™ Week, the school held a Storybook STEM night, where students shared the work they have done throughout the academic year and families participated in hands-on activities, munched on salads, learned about seed dispersal, and took home arugula seeds from the learning garden to plant in their own yards.

Added Liwanag, “Gardening is a great opportunity for kids to learn, and in school, it becomes a part of their growing-up experience.”

This grant was made possible through funding from ALDI.