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USDA Administrator Visits Baltimore City School

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A move in a healthier direction. Monday, an administrator with the USDA made a visit to one of the Baltimore City school properties to see what’s being done to promote life-saving eating habits.

Marcus Washington has more on this unique program.

If you didn’t know, Baltimore City schools own a farm. They grow fresh fruits and vegetables and pass the food along. It’s all part of the national Farm to School grant program.

It was one year ago when Dominic Brooks, a 17-year-old senior at Baltimore City College High, first started working his summer job at Great Kids Farm. Owned by Baltimore City schools, the farm not only teaches about agriculture but eating healthier foods.

“And I feel as though I know what I am doing and I grew it myself. I’m okay with eating it. I like how, when I try it, I inspire other people who have been working with as well, saying, `He’s trying it; I will try it, too,'” Brooks said.

Many of the students harvest the produce inside greenhouses. From there, many of the plants are sent to Baltimore City school gardens for them to grow. They also sell some of the produce to local restaurants but they also keep some of what they grow for their use right here at the farm.

“People were sitting down and they knew I grew it so they were like, `Oh, you grew this? It’s really good.’ That, right there, just made me blow up,” Brooks said. “That was something very memorable for me.”

From harvesting to cooking, what’s going on has brought out United States Department of Agriculture administrator Audrey Rowe.

“Well, nationally what you are seeing are children were obesity continues to be at high levels,” Rowe said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one third of American children are obese or overweight. That’s triple the number for 40 years ago. Here in Maryland, it’s estimated more than 31% of children are either overweight or obese.

“Which we are working with here in Baltimore, with the mayor’s office and the food policy director, working around corner stores. How do we get corner stores to be more healthy,” Rowe said.

Providing kids the tools to eat healthier, one student at a time.

Some of the kids say they have taken their gardening techniques home and done some harvesting there.

Out of all the food produced at the farm, 90% goes to students while no more than 10% is sold to local businesses. The money made goes back to the program and helps pay for the student workers.

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