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Commissioner Miller Joins Preschool Students to Plant Salsa Garden, Promote Good Nutrition (6/2/2015)

AUSTIN - Today, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller joined preschool students at Mainspring Schools in Austin to plant a salsa garden full of jalapeños and tomatoes. Commissioner Miller is working to promote healthy living and the importance of teaching good nutrition at an early age.

“Teaching our children early in life to eat healthy is vitally important,” Commissioner Miller said. “In doing so, we are giving our children the best chance to live healthy and successful lives, and turn the tide on our obesity epidemic. Just as we think about teaching children letters and numbers, it’s essential we educate them on healthy eating habits.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) administers two grant programs aimed at promoting nutrition education and supporting efforts to prevent obesity among Texas children. The goal is to increase awareness about the importance of good nutrition and encourage children to follow the 3E’s of Healthy Living — Education, Exercise and Eating Right.

Both grants are competitive, and one of the grants is specifically geared toward child care institutions and community organizations. This program allows not only children, but also their parents, to learn about why proper nutrition education at an early age is pertinent to developing healthy eating and exercising habits.

Austin’s Mainspring Schools has received two TDA grants — one for $7,500 in 2011-2012 and another for $10,000 in 2013-2014. Mainspring Schools used these funds to establish Farm to Child Care initiatives and explore innovative ways to teach children about healthy foods. 

Additionally, the school’s staff created a campus garden to teach children about farming and growing their own produce. When the fruits and vegetables are ripe, students help harvest and bring the produce to the kitchen manager who incorporates it into the day’s meal.

Preschool classrooms are a perfect place to teach children good eating habits. Morning snack time is a ritual within every preschool program, and many preschools use this as an opportunity to go beyond just putting food on the table. Schools will often utilize this time to talk about why it is important to make healthy choices.

TDA currently has $400,000 available in grant funding. The deadline to apply is Thursday, June 4. For more information or to download an application, visit TexasAgriculture.gov or email Grants@TexasAgriculture.gov.