Local teachers of grades preK-5 attended a workshop March 31 titled “Teachers in the Garden-Healthy Kids in the Classroom.”
The workshop, held at the Sussex County Community (SCCC) Annex and the campus greenhouse, provided information on the Farm to School program and efforts to promote healthy eating.
The teachers were urged to integrate nutrition into other subject areas, such as math and science, and they were invited to try regular and hydroponic plantings in the greenhouse.
The workshop was sponsored by the Sussex County Child Health Crisis Workgroup, a network of agencies, organizations, school and public health nurses, and school staff, administrators and dietitians founded in 2016 that strives to improve child health and well being.
The workgroup is also works with Rutgers University School of Nursing, Sussex County Community College, the state Department of Agriculture, Farm to School and the State Fairgrounds.
One factor it is focused on is obesity.
According to Sussex County Division of Health’s body mass index data, 38 percent of students in grades preK-6 are overweight and/or obese. In addition, a third of school children have high cholesterol readings.
“Obese children usually grow up to be obese adults,” said Deborah Fisher, a retired school nurse and member of the workgroup.
Overweight and obese children and adults may have more medical problems and even put a strain on the health-care system.
Children and their parents must be encouraged to eat a healthier diet and live an active lifestyle, workgroup members said.
“What better place to educate on a healthy lifestyle than in school,” said Kathy Cafasso of the New Jersey State Fair.
Research has shown that healthy children learn and children in good physical shape bring more focus, stamina and creativity to the classroom, workgroup members said.
“Be the superhero that your students deserve. We need you to help your students be happy, healthy and ready to take on the world,” Fisher said.