The SEEAG initiative will reach 10,000 children.
Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) was selected to receive a $218,684 California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Specialty Crop Block Grant for SEEAG’s “Ventura County Child Wellness Initiative,” a program that is designed to educate and inspire children to eat healthy by adding locally grown Ventura County specialty crops to their diet.
The SEEAG initiative will reach 10,000 children including low income, Title 1 students in grades second through fourth during school and after school through its Farm Fresh Mobile Classroom. Students will learn about the nutrients and health benefits of Ventura County specialty crops such as berries, celery, citrus, tomatoes and avocadoes. A different crop will be highlighted each month.
According to a UCLA study (A Patchwork of Progress), about 35% of fifth, seventh and ninth graders in Ventura County are overweight, which puts them at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
Through the Ventura County Child Wellness Initiative, SEEAG will introduce hands-on activities to increase children’s knowledge of, preference for, and consumption of fresh California fruits and vegetables. Students will learn to prepare healthy after-school snacks using locally grown crops. SEEAG will partner with local growers to donate fruits and vegetables that students will take home to share with their families. Recipe cards and information about local farmers’ markets will further support healthy eating at home.
“A CDFA representative visited us in April and saw firsthand the impact our programs were making,” says Mary Maranville. “SEEAG has been putting on these kinds of programs for 10 years. The knowledge they bring to students and the students’ positive response are what make it all worthwhile. These kids are learning a different, healthier way to eat that we hope will stay with them throughout their lives.”
Founded in 2008, Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) is a nonprofit organization that aims to help young students understand the origins of their food by bridging the gap between agriculture and consumption through its agricultural education programming. SEEAG’s “The Farm Lab” program based in Ventura County teaches schoolchildren about the origins of their food and the importance of local farmland by providing schools with classroom agricultural education and free field trips to farms. Through this program, over 20,000 elementary school students in Southern California have increased their understanding of the food journey.
For more about SEEAG and learn how to sign up for its programs, go to www.seeag.org.