School Gardens: Helping Students Understand Where Food Comes From to Break Down Barriers to Healthy Food
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Within the United States, food insecurity is adversely affecting urban households, households with children, and minority households (Coleman-Jensen, Gregory, & Singh, 2016). To overcome these disparities and fill the hunger gap, urban residents are turning to urban agriculture. This paper focuses on one initiative of urban agriculture: school gardens. Building from the successes of other urban agriculture initiatives – established knowledge of where food comes from and understanding of intent for projects – I queried the literature with these two questions: 1. how are schools using school gardens; and, 2. Do school gardens help students understand where food comes from? Through a systematic literature review of 26 articles on school gardens from 2000 to 2017, it was found that school gardens are most commonly used to promote healthy eating behaviors, improve nutritional knowledge, and enhance academic performance. Additionally, the understanding of where food comes from served as a theoretical framework for which much research was built upon. However, none of the studies measured for students’ understanding of where food comes from. I then used these findings as well as knowledge gained from case studies of established school gardens in Western United States to make recommendations to city planners for Baltimore City, MD. Baltimore is experiencing significant food access inequities (Buczynski, Freishtat, & Buzogany, 2016). By appropriately soliciting the help of stakeholders and community members, while considering the needs and wants of those who will directly benefit – students and their families – school gardens can be instrumental tools that will serve as resource multipliers for declared food deserts.