Granola bars, local satsumas, fruit leather, organic juices. These snacks are more than tasty: they are absolutely key to the nutrition and success of the young people who work on our farm.
At Grow Dat, our mission is to nurture a diverse group of young leaders through the meaningful work of growing food–a straightforward mission and goal, but one that is complicated by the challenges facing the young adults we hire to work on our farm.
This year we have refined our evaluation tools, allowing us to capture more baseline nutrition and diet data from youth in the program. When we administered the survey this February, even we were surprised by what we found out. Of 25 youth surveyed, 50% reported not having eaten a single meal the day the survey was administered, with an additional 46% reporting eating only one full meal that day (the survey was administered at 5 pm). Only 50% reported having eaten any fruit in the last 24 hours and only 12% (3 out of 25) reported having eaten any vegetables in the last 24 hours. Additionally, 20% reported drinking at least one soda a day.
When the young adults who work with us arrive from work, so often they arrive hungry. Thus, we want to send a huge thank you to Whole Foods at Arabella Station for providing daily snacks that allow us to greet youth at the start of each work day with something healthy to eat. Often the first time they try many different kinds of fruits and vegetables is at work. This exposure to food that is good for them, that they can eat as much of as they wish, provides an essential foundation and support that allows them to thrive in the often very physically demanding work of farming. It also reinforces that they are in an environment where they are cared for, which encourages them to take risks and grow as individuals.
Thank you for your partnership, Whole Foods!