Oneida and Vilas Counties are looking to school gardens to improve community health.
The chronic disease prevention coalition called Northwoods LEAN has a new $400,000 grant from the UW School of Medicine Partnership program. It supports a variety of community health initiatives including a push to expose kids to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Oneida County Community Health Specialist Kyla Waksmonski says the coalition plans to have a broad reach.
“In every school district in our two counties, we would like to have some kind of garden-based nutrition intervention on some level – and so basically it’s increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for kids.”
Waksmonski says those interventions could be anything from starting a raised bed or doing taste tests of fresh fruits and vegetables in the classroom.
Northwoods LEAN hopes the push towards garden-based learning in schools will trickle down to improve health across the community.
“Most of our residents don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. So by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for our kids, we hope we can start those healthy behaviors at a very young age, that then will become healthy habits throughout their lifetime.”
Waksmonski says efforts in schools often reach parents as well.