FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Apple Seeds, a local educational nonprofit, is reviving its school nutrition education programs supported by a grant from the Walmart Foundation.

The Cooking In The Schools program teaches students cooking skills combined with nutrition education to enable them to enjoy and choose nutrient-dense foods. During the school day, students learn how to make a simple nutritious recipe and learn about the importance of nutrition in food choices. Each child leaves with the recipe and the ingredients to reproduce their experience at home.

In a press release, an Apple Seeds spokesperson said, “The past two years have shown how important it is to be healthy and resilient. This program is a step in that direction for thousands of children.

The organization’s goal is to reach elementary through middle school students in Northwest Arkansas with engaging lessons that teach them how to prepare, cook, and eat a diet filled with healthy, tasty vegetables and fruits. For example, ninth graders will have the opportunity to try a new recipe this year, Zucchini Bites.

In Arkansas, only 1.2% of young people consume the daily vegetable recommendations according to the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. Apple Seeds is building a positive culture around nutrient-dense foods in schools, teaching students how to cook, and bringing fresh produce directly to students. Cooking In The Schools incorporates appropriate grade level standards in health, math, and literacy while developing interest and skills in healthy food preparation.

Students should not only have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, but they should be willing to try new vegetables. We find that on average 70% of students leave the program ready to try the vegetables they have prepared during class. Fifty percent say they continue to make the same recipes on their own after class, and 60 percent of students say they eat the vegetables Apple Seeds sends home with them. We also find that 65-75% of students retain nutrition education concepts one week after class.

Mary Thompson, Executive Director, Apple Seeds

Apple Seeds has been serving Northwest Arkansas for over 14 years. During this time, the organization has had a positive impact on the community. Student surveys show improved attitudes and behaviors toward healthy foods and better knowledge of nutrition.