The City of Monroe has put a $25,000 grant from American Beverage to use at city recreation centers this summer.
At Marbles Community Center, a community garden is providing fresh vegetables for lessons on healthy eating, and next week the city is hosting an event at Monroe Purchase Gardens & Zoo to promote positive habits.
The program the city created is being billed as Mayor Mayo’s F.U.N. & Fit 2 Eat Youth Initiative.
Delles Howell Jr., Supervisor at the Emily P. Robinson Community Center, said an April event held by the city saw school students travel through six different stations to engage in fun-based learning experiences focused on healthy and unhealthy eating habits and planting vegetables.
The event at the zoo will use the same basic structure while offering additional lessons to students who participated in the April course.
Kimberly Butcher, Nutrition Educator with the LSU AgCenter, has been providing a continuing education component to tie in with the garden at Marbles.
“A lot of the youth don’t really know where tomatoes come from,” Butcher said. “They know they just go to the grocery store and pick it up, so it is a great opportunity for farm-to-table lessons to be incorporated.”
Some of the lessons have also included an opportunity to taste test new ways of cooking food, such as grilling zucchini.
Sam Tennessee, Marbles Community Center supervisor, said the goal is to educate children about how good the ground can be and how to grow food.
According to Howell, the city will also follow up with students in the fall.
The city of Monroe was awarded the $25,000 grant in January for a planned initiative designed to fight childhood obesity.
The program focuses on school-age children between six and 14, but it can be beneficial to students of all ages, parents and others within the community.
Program goals include:
- Creating more after-school physical fitness programs that encourage children to walk, run, skate or bike daily.
- Holding monthly Saturday programs to teach healthy nutrition, gardening, cooking and competitive sporting activities.
- Starting more school-based gardens to encourage healthy eating by serving fresh fruits and vegetables grown by students at those schools.