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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Arkansas students learn importance of healthy foods through school gardens

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Thursday, June 20, 2024   

School children in Arkansas are learning how to grow their own fruits and vegetables through the Farm to School and Early Childhood Education program offered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

Across the state, 350 gardens serve as outdoor classrooms at schools and early childhood development centers. Teachers said tending to the gardens helps students with their decision-making, problem-solving and communication skills.

Jessica Chapman, coordinator of the program, said at the same time, students are learning about food, nutrition and agriculture.

"This can involve inviting a local farmer to visit the classroom for a discussion," Chapman explained. "We can help them create a taste test for the students to try a local fruit or vegetable, or we can help them by giving them the resources that they need to integrate farm to school concepts into their subjects."

Some items grown in the school gardens are used in cafeterias, and pantries. Four-H programs across the state also sell some of the produce to raise money for their program.

The Farm to School concept was started in Arkansas in 2019 and has been instrumental in getting locally grown food items into schools and connecting local farmers with the school districts. Farmers and school nutritionists recently met to discuss plans for future collaborations.

Chapman pointed out building relationships not only supports the local farmers and the economy but ensures children have access to locally sourced, nutritious foods.

"They were four regional events and we had them, one in Fayetteville, one in Batesville, one in Hope and one in Central Arkansas," Chapman outlined. "That was to directly link those school nutrition staff with the local producers and the goal was to boost the number of Arkansas school districts that purchase directly from a farmer."

According to the agriculture department, currently more than 35 school districts or early childhood education facilities in Arkansas purchase their food locally and almost 30 farmers and local businesses sell to school districts.


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