Chula Vista Elementary School District Fighting Obesity With Garden, Healthier Choices

Planting at the Otay Community Garden is a big draw for Mr. Medrano’s kids. Students who call themselves farmers get to grow their food from the seed and eat it fresh. The garden includes fruits and vegetables such as mint, broccoli, strawberries and potatoes, among others.

“When students learn more about food, they're more likely to eat and make better, healthier choices,” Otay Elementary teacher Daniel Medrano told NBC 7.

A new UCLA study says that one in three California children are drinking at least one soda, sports drink or other sugary drink at least once a day – and that number has gone up steadily since 2009.

But the Otay Mesa Community Garden is just part of the effort by the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) to help kids make healthier choices. They are also serving healthier food in the cafeteria, getting rid of sugary drinks on campus and they’re encouraging families to make healthier choices at home.

“It makes me feel incredibly proud because I know that we're making an impact,” Otay Elementary School Principal Monica Castillos, said.

Districtwide, obesity rates have dropped by 17 percent since 2010, in stark contrast to the UCLA study.

Castillos said she’s seen the shift and students are making “better choices at lunch, better choices for snack.”

Six schools in the district that were listed as having too many obese children in 2010 have removed themselves from the list, and CVESD Physical Education, Health and Wellness Coordinator Heather Cruz said the garden is a big part of that. She said the garden “makes them more motivated to be able to make those healthy choices.”

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