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Students help whole community get healthy

Friday, August 31, 2012
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Some south suburban students are getting their hands dirty in the pursuit of healthier lifestyles and their community is reaping the fruits of their labor.

Students at Thornton Fractional South High School in south suburban Lansing are reaping the harvest of a lot of hard work. They started a garden last year with funding from a federal grant to promote healthy living in their community. The funds also paid for new equipment for the school's fitness room. "We're trying to take a holistic approach so that students not only see that 'hey there's a garden. We grew these seeds in our science class, now they're out here.' We're trying to incorporate healthy eating and healthy lifestyles," Judy Whalen, principal, Thornton Fraction High School South, said. Part of that lesson comes from connecting with the food from the start. Some special education students regularly tend the garden for hands-on learning. "The celery. I did not know that there was red celery, but mostly I had fun planting tomatoes also," Malik Rodgers, sophomore, said. Some of the harvest goes to culinary students to give them access to a diversity of fresh foods. "We did pickled zucchini and a lot of different cooking methods have been used, like tomato concasse has been used. I've never cooked with eggplant before last year," Hanna Glinski, senior, said. The remainder of the food --- more than a thousand pounds worth so far -- is donated to the neighborhood food pantry. It's the students' way of giving back to the community. "The clients are so excited to have fresh vegetables available to them. For many of our clients some of the things are unfamiliar," Karen Adams, Lansing Food Pantry, said. "We just feel it's a great privilege to be able to give healthy foods." Money from the grant has run out, but the program has been so successful that the school is now looking to raise funds to expand the garden in another section of land on their campus. Find out more about the program, and how to help out at tfd215.org and fumclansing.org.

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