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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Club plants seeds for health


UA Students in Free Enterprise, a community outreach club, is teaching students at the Wildcat Charter School about sustainability in nutrition and gardening.

The project, Food 4 Thought, began last year to teach proper nutrition to elementary school students. Since then, it has expanded to a three-part curriculum, which provides hands-on lessons for K-12 students on recycling, garden maintenance, watering and composting.

“The idea is to keep the cycle going,” said Marilyn Weigand, an elementary education junior. “We want the students to take what we teach home with them to their communities.”

The curriculum began as an eight-week course about the food pyramid for the school’s fourth graders, but thanks to a $2,000 grant from Lowes, club members shifted their focus to establishing a garden that each student can be responsible for.

“It’s in the process of being revamped,” Weigand said, “but we hope to have the garden be more accessible to all teachers and grade levels by next year.”

One of the project’s goals for this year involves a communal spaghetti dinner, which will be held in early May to help raise money for the school’s eighth-grade field trip. Organizers plan to have students stand in as chefs, and they’ll cook the dinner entirely with ingredients grown in the garden.

The back-lot playground of the Wildcat Charter School serves as the garden. A cage full of roosters and plastic bins of collected rainwater are used to keep the garden replenished at a low economic cost. The garden itself supplies new foods that some of the students have never tasted or even heard of, Weigand said.

“Some of them (vegetables) I caught the kids eating,” Weigand said with a chuckle as she described the variety of lettuce, onions and peppers the garden offers. Along with her other team members from Students in Free Enterprise, Weigand visits the school every Wednesday afternoon to provide a lesson and allow open-access for the students to work together in the garden.

“They get really excited when we come in because they know they can count on us,” said Carley Howell, a senior studying retailing and consumer sciences. Members of Students in Free Enterprise, she said, noticed a stronger attendance rate and growth in enthusiasm every time they arrived with their lesson of the week.

“They’re really beginning to envision a future for themselves,” Howell said.

Weigand and Howell said they are ambitious about the future of the project, and want to continue incorporating the word of healthy nutrition to other departments of the school. Last year, they convinced the school’s lunch caterer to eliminate a gummy snack from the daily menu, and succeeded in cutting 32 pounds of sugar out of the students’ collective diet.

“We’re trying to accommodate both parties,” Howell said. “We want the entire school to know that this project is intended to be accessible to them.”

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