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Pre-K 4 SA and San Antonio Food Bank Partner to Bring Farmers Markets to Young Learners

a young girl waters plants in a garden oustide a Pre-K 4 SA center

What if there was a way to teach children that it’s fun to try new fruits and vegetables? What if, at the same time, they could also learn the value of nutrition, use practical math skills, and build community? It almost sounds too good to be true.

But through a unique partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank, we’re doing just that. Children at all four education centers, plus the Gardendale Early Learning Program, get to participate in farmers markets that teach them several valuable lessons in a real-world setting.

From Seeds to Snacks: Students Grow Their Own Food 

We believe that early nutritional education is a vital part of empowering students to live happier, healthier lives. That’s why nutrition is a core component of the Pre-K 4 SA program. 

As part of the CHEF program, students grow and harvest their own food in garden beds located in their outdoor learning environments with guidance from an experienced gardener. The produce is then integrated into their meals throughout the year. This helps the children feel more connected to their food and rewards them with seeing the seeds they plant turn into a finished product. 

The farmers markets are a natural addition to the CHEF nutrition program, and they provide opportunities for students to interact with healthy foods in ways that engage all of their senses. They get to see, smell, touch, and taste fruits and vegetables that may be new to them, and they hear the sounds of a lively market and community coming together. 

Children first tour the market with their teachers and are able to purchase (with fake money) a produce item to take home. During this time, they learn about where food comes from, get introduced to new types of produce, and practice useful math skills by counting, measuring, sorting, and purchasing produce.

Then, they have an opportunity to return with their families at the end of the day, where produce can be bought with cash, credit, and SNAP/EBT cards. This gives families a chance to buy fresh, seasonal produce at or below retail price while building community with other families—whether they’re volunteering to help run the markets or just shopping together. 

San Antonio Food Bank provides fruits and vegetables grown on their own farm, along with equipment and staff to help during the event. They also provide nutritional and agricultural education, and they share cooking tips and recipes to give families ideas for new ways to use the produce they take home.

These farmers markets don’t just teach children about the importance of local farming and healthy eating, though those are important lessons to take away. When combined with the CHEF program, they help children better understand what they’re capable of accomplishing. They also include important lessons for families and educators as well—which leads to a satisfying, rewarding experience for all who participate.

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