Sixteen Austin-area elementary schools will participate in a study with UT Austin researchers, thanks to a $3.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers will use school gardens to learn whether growing fruits and vegetables and learning nutrition and cooking skills can improve health and reduce childhood obesity.
The project breaks ground on its first school gardens this spring. Jaimie Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, is calling the program TX Sprouts. The program will involve 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.
Davis and her team hope to expand on the promising effects seen in an earlier pilot study Davis led at four schools in Los Angeles. The students received 90-minute classes in nutrition, cooking and gardening once a week after school for 12 weeks.
“We saw that teaching kids to grow their own food was very impactful,” says Davis. “I hope to see the same effects on a larger scale with TX Sprouts.”
Photo by Jaimie Davis.