Learning a Healthier Lifestyle with Pizza

Wheelbarrows, trowels and smiles were easy to spot recently as students at Allenbrook Elementary School dug into the earth to make a place for a vegetable garden. These children and more at 13 other Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary schools expect to harvest enough tomatoes, spinach, peppers, garlic and basil before school is out for a make-it-yourself pizza party. Supporters of the two-year-old Field to Fork program say produce from the schoolyard may be the best way to help students develop a taste for fresh foods when there are few stores in their neighborhoods that sell those items.

Reaching students in elementary school and teaching them to make produce an important part of their diets might also help reduce obesity rates in the long term, said Katie Cooper, Field to Fork’s coordinator. The students take a trip to one of the seven local Fuel Pizza Cafés before the last day of school for a pizza party. Last year, only two of more than 250 students ate a pizza without vegetables, Cooper said.’They’re learning what their preferences are,’ Cooper said of elementary school children. ‘The program helps set them up for making healthier choices later in life.”‘

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