Urban students grow food at Los Angeles school garden U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy joins John C. Fremont High School students, including Xiaxiang English, left, at a display of food items grown from the school's Gardening Apprenticeship Program plot on the campus south of downtown Los Angeles Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Urban students grow food at Los Angeles school garden
Lexile

Elizabeth Castro had never tasted beets or kumquats before she joined an after-school gardening program at her inner city Los Angeles high school.
 
Now, the 15-year-old helps grow the produce on campus in an urban neighborhood. The area is filled with auto shops and fast food restaurants. She's taken produce samples home for her family to try.
 
"Many things that I experienced here, I had never experienced before," Castro told U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. They were on a tour of the 1.5-acre site along with Castro's fellow students. "Instead of going home and doing nothing at all, we come here."
 
Murthy recently visited the partnership between community organizations and John C. Fremont High School. Murthy was there to support healthy initiatives in neighborhoods starved for fresh produce. In addition, the neighborhoods are struggling with childhood obesity.
 
"These kinds of programs, they help build a demand for healthy foods," Murthy said.
 
At the South Los Angeles campus, students are involved in the 12-week after-school gardening apprenticeship program. They learn to grow food and cook healthy dishes. They pull from kumquat and lime trees and planters filled with potatoes, peas and beets. A community health clinic run by UMMA that caters to students and neighborhood residents is located next door.
 
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust started the garden four years ago. It plans to add a greenhouse. Those in the apprenticeship program have seen a jump in their grades and the amount of fruit and vegetables they eat, said Mark Glassock. He is director of special projects for the trust. A similar project is being designed at a nearby high school.
 
"Schools have a lot of property on their campuses, much of which is underutilized. So this is a great alternative to use that space," he said.
 
A 2013 report showed about 40 percent of the school's students were overweight or obese, Glassock said. Across the country, the obesity rate in children age 2 to 19 has held around 17 percent for the last decade. That is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Azucena Lozoya, 16, said she signed up for the gardening program because she never had a chance to try anything like it where she lives. Since then, she's enjoyed tasting kale and a variety of melons. They have become additions to the rice, bean and chicken dishes she usually gets at home, she said.
 
"My mom never makes stuff like that," Lozoya said. "This helps us have a different range of food. This helps us have choices."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do "these kinds of programs help build a demand for healthy foods?"
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COMMENTS (123)
  • Eric0221-YYCA
    12/02/2015 - 08:49 p.m.

    I think that it is cool that urban students are going to do an after school thing that students need to grow food in a school garden which they are take home for their family. I think that the students that are participating in an after school program which the students are going to be growing things in a school garden to grow to take the vegetables that they grow. The urban students might have wanted to try the vegetables that they had grown in their school garden for his or her family taste. I think that the after school might have worked out for urban students because the education might have worked out the urban students.

  • william1108-yyca
    12/02/2015 - 09:00 p.m.

    WOW! I have never heard of beets or kumquats before. I wish that I can actually see one. And I have actually also never seen a place where they garden plants and vegetables. But now I read the article I now know that there is one. Maybe one day I will look for one if there is any and observe everything I see that is interesting.

  • annabel1226-yyca
    12/02/2015 - 09:31 p.m.

    I wish at my school that I could grow gardens at school. I wish that I could get my own food that I grow. Isn't it fun to grow food in your own garden? Also, you don't get to work in school instead you could grow your food that you don't have to study and get money to buy food. I think it is a very good idea. If I become a teacher than I would grow vegetables but more fruits. I think our President should think about that activities for schools.

  • angelo-
    12/03/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    what is the other food that people can have because some of the people can have other food the the one they make

  • kevinb-1-bar
    12/03/2015 - 09:36 p.m.

    These kinds of food give a demand for healthy food because usually when kids go home from school they don't eat anything healthy and they just eat junk, if kids eat healthy food when they come home it will taste better and they will want more. In the text it says, "this helps us have a different range of food. This helps us have choices," what they are trying to say is that healthy food gives kids and people different choices to eat and not just junk food, so it can fight obesity.

    What I thought about this article was that it is important because some children don't have parents that cook for them and they all get fat from eating junk food.

    • alexise-lan
      12/04/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

      i agree with u

    • carolined-sch
      3/01/2016 - 03:01 p.m.

      I agree with you because that is true since some kids don't have a family or that their family is too busy to cook.

  • cassidym-lan
    12/04/2015 - 10:43 a.m.

    These kinds of foods build a demand for healthy foods because in paragraph 4 it says"the neighborhoods are struggling with childhood obesity.

    • carolined-sch
      3/01/2016 - 03:01 p.m.

      I agree with you that did say that in the article.

  • zaieierp-lan
    12/04/2015 - 10:46 a.m.

    These kinds of programs help build a demand for healthy foods because they don't want any homeless people on the street starving.If they starve that is more lives in the U.S. dying of starvation but, with these programs they help them so they wont die.They choose healthy foods because people need to be strong and healthy otherwise, they wouldn't have much energy to do anything.

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