Oklahoma school children are learning about how the foods they eat get from the farm to their dinner table and how this food is used for good health.
“Farm to You” is an interactive, walk-through display geared toward kindergarten through 6th grade students. The exhibit features ten stations that take the students from the farm and through the body.
“Farm to You” is a collaborative effort of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (Family and consumer sciences, 4H and agricultural education programs), OSU Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State Department of Health (WIC service) and Southwest Dairy Farmers. Since August of 2008, the exhibit has taught more than 87,000 elementary students about agriculture, nutrition, physical activity and health in 71 counties.
Lauren Amaya, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service nutrition specialist for youth, said it is important for children to know where food comes from and how their food choices are related to their health.
Poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles among Oklahoma’s youth indicate the need to educate children on the importance of eating healthy and being physically active.
“The importance of the information provided in this exhibit can be found in the major health issues affecting our target audience—Oklahoma’s youth,” Amaya said. “Recent data shows that nearly half of children in the state do not usually consume fruits, and about 40% of children consume less than one serving of vegetables per day. Also, among Oklahoma fifth graders, only a third of children meet recommended physical activity levels each day. Excessive consumption of calories and low physical activity levels contribute to overweight and obesity, which are major concerns in Oklahoma’s youth. Being overweight or obese as a child increases the risk of developing chronic diseases in adulthood, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and osteoarthritis. Other issues affecting this age group include the high prevalence of dental decay, low consumption of dairy foods, and high rates of smoking among adolescents. Behaviors including eating habits and lifestyle practices are developed in childhood, so it is essential to promote healthy living at an early age. The Farm to You exhibit does just that.”
The 10 stations that make up the agricultural and health adventure include Farmer Pete’s Garden, Protein, Dairy, Grains, Mouth, Stomach, Small Intestine, Muscle, Bone and Skin. Groups of 10 students will spend about six minutes at each station participating in activities and learning about the relationships between agriculture, food and health.
Cody Yount serves as the state coordinator for Farm to You, and he said the exhibit will travel to any part of the state.
“Any school that wants to have the exhibit should contact their local Cooperative Extension office first,” Yount said. “The county office then contacts me and I schedule it and train the personnel.”
The school must have a 40-ft by 40-ft, 10ft high indoor space available, at least eight volunteers to set it up and take it down and nine volunteers to be station presenters. Ideally the school should have between 250 and 400 students available to walk through the exhibit.
“Many children don’t know where food comes from and how their food choices are related to their health,” Yount said. “This exciting adventure will help Oklahoma children make this connection.”
More information about Farm to You is available at www.farmtoyou.okstate.edu, or by contacting Cody at 405-713-1125, or [email protected]
Reach Trisha Gedon at [email protected]