Educators Learn About the Benefits of School Gardens at the Second Annual Staten Island School Garden Summit

For the second year in a row The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW) and the New York City Department of Education joined forces to promote healthy eating and a love of gardening among school children throughout the borough by targeting a key audience – educators. The Second Annual School Garden Summit, which was held on March 17 at the Michael J. Petrides School, provided educators and administrators with the knowledge to start, expand, and sustain a school garden.

“It’s all about inspiring schools to plant gardens; plant vegetable gardens,” said Jody Stoll, project manager at SIPCW. “This is all about having kids become healthier through eating healthier. And you know what? Kids will eat what they grow.”

The 2017 School Garden Summit boasted twice as many participants as the 2016 Garden Summit, with over 120 principals, teachers, and school faculty members attending from 30 schools. Interactive sessions focused on using gardens to enhance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum, acquiring grants and resources, learning garden management basics, and participating in healthy food demonstrations.

In addition to the breakout sessions, attendees heard students from P.S. 45, P.S. 46, P.S. 57, and P.S. 80 present the projects they’ve worked on to improve health and wellness in their schools. In an inspiring address, keynote speaker Kathy Soll, of Teens for Food Justice, spoke to attendees about the role that young people can play in combatting food insecurity and poor nutrition. Giveaways included seeds and planting calendars to guide schools on when to plant and harvest.

“I think people really got to learn a lot and learn how to bring things back to their own schools,” said Petrides Principal Joanne Buckheit, who graciously hosted the event. “They got to see what’s happening in other schools – to see how excited kids could be about this work.”

The Staten Island School Garden Summit is a program of the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative. Led by SIPCW, the Child Wellness Initiative aims to improve child health and wellness on Staten Island by addressing access and opportunities for active living, availability and affordability of fresh healthy food, and community-wide partnerships that shape children’s home, school, recreational, and healthcare environments.

Studies show that school gardens help children learn to love healthy food. Children who understand how to grow their own food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. School gardens help instill healthy habits in kids that can affect them for a lifetime.

“We think we’ve found a secret bullet here to fight childhood obesity,” said Stoll.

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Groups to NYC Council Members: Stop Alcohol Advertising to Kids on Public Transit

WASHINGTON, D.C. − New York City should protect public health and promote health equity by refusing to allow advertisements for alcohol from its public transportation system, said Public Citizen, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Center for Science in the Public Interest in a letter to New York City Council members today.

A letter was sent to each council member who has not yet signed on to co-sponsor Resolution 922-2015, which calls on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the governor and the state legislature to prohibit alcohol advertisements on subways, buses and other New York City Transit property.

According to research published earlier this month in the Journal of Urban Health, advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages, including alcohol, in Bronx subway stations are more likely to be found in Bronx neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty, lower educational attainment, higher percentages of black and Hispanic residents, and more children.

“Alcohol and junk food companies are using the New York City public transportation system to target people of color and low-income residents who often lack access to healthy food options or health resources,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program. “It is unethical for the MTA to hold children and youth as a captive audience for alcohol advertisers, considering that underage drinking is one of the leading causes of injury and death among young people.”

Hundreds of thousands of children and youth use the New York City subway to get to and from school every day.

“It’s unconscionable to think that children riding the bus or subway to and from school are subjected to ads that glorify and encourage drinking of alcoholic beverages,” said David Monahan, campaign manager of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Research shows these ads work on young people − all too well − and lead to underage drinking and a host of health and social consequences. We urge the New York City Council to join the long list of cities that protect kids from seeing alcohol ads on public transit.”

Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, added, “With alcoholism such a problem in New York, the city should be fighting it at every turn and not abetting it.”

Read the letter.