Obesity rates among American children and adolescents continue to soar, with more than twice the number of children and over four times the number of adolescents weighing in as obese, as opposed to children from 30 years ago.
The non-profit organization Common
Vision is dedicated to improving the status of the roughly 6.5 million
children who live in the midst of food deserts and are more susceptible
to obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food
deserts are areas in which at least 33 percent of the population lives
more than a mile from a large grocery store or supermarket. These areas
are often in lower income areas where transportation is difficult to
access, and residents tend to suffer from more medical complications
than those in other areas.
Vision combats food deserts in California by working with schools to
plant free orchards that provide students with fresh food. Its recent
campaign launched via Indiegogo has exceeded its goals of $60,000 that
will enable the organization to engage 15,000 more kids in planting
1,000 barren lots with fruit trees that are ripe — and free — for
According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of America’s children
and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. Contributing factors
include an inability to access fresh fruits and vegetables, a lack of
education regarding good food choices and other lifestyle situations.
Common Vision’s Grow Fruit Grow Power
vision will pull double duty on California campuses to combat these
factors. Not only will students gain access to fresh fruits and
vegetables in areas where they were previously denied them, but the
orchards serve as outdoor classrooms. Students take an active role in
the planting and nurturing of the fruit trees while learning important
lessons in teamwork, environmental science and nutrition. Its innovative
approach helps foster future generations of environmentally conscious,
healthy Americans, something we desperately need.
A review of studies published in the Journal of School Health
cites a correlation between childhood obesity with the rise in type 2
diabetes, cardiovascular complications, asthma, psychosocial problems,
sleep apnea and a number of other medical conditions. According to the
review, students who are obese miss more school days than other
students, leading to poorer performance and lower test results.
Educators and nutrition advocates have clued into this relationship, as
has the government.
USDA’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 sets policies for child
nutrition programs across the US. The act requires students to be given
one fresh fruit or vegetable option at meals. The goal is to combat
obesity in American schools, but a study from the University of Vermont
found that even though students were selecting more fresh fruits and
vegetables at lunchtime, many of them were also throwing them away.“It was heartbreaking to see so many
students toss fruits like apples into the trash right after exiting the
lunch line,” said lead author and researcher in Nutrition and Food
Sciences, Sarah Amin.
Common Vision’s staff and volunteers
change such dismissive attitudes and “plant the seeds of change” by
getting kids involved in growing over 150,000 pounds of fresh food each
year, and with great results. The more hands-on kids are in the process
of food production, the greater connection they will develop with
healthy, wholesome food. Common Vision’s latest campaign will ensure
that more kids have access to the foods that many of us take for
granted, and that’s good news in our opinion.
-The Alternative Daily