CitiesMiami

1 in 5 children go to bed hungry in Miami-Dade. Here’s how one program is changing that.

Bob Booth

August 13, 2018 05:08 PM

In Miami-Dade County, one in five children go to bed hungry.

That’s according to Feeding South Florida’s 2016 analysis, the latest portrait available.

One group is trying to change those numbers. Live Healthy Miami Gardens (LHMG) has been working to lower these numbers since 2014. And it recently secured a $125,000 grant from the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) to expand its efforts.

The grant will increase access to healthy food options for Miami Gardens students and families, working through 25 schools in the city.

Live Healthy Miami Gardens also will continue its food forests at three Miami Gardens schools, an initiative it began with The Education Fund, a nonprofit that boosts Miami-Dade public schools. In a food forest, students grow their own fruits, veggies and herbs in large garden plots. The produce is then incorporated into school lunch menus and school families can attend cooking and gardening classes.

“Food forests are food gardens, but bigger,” said Thamara Labrousse, program director of Live Healthy Miami Gardens. “They’re meant to engage school youth in the process of planting their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, which will be incorporated in foods the kids get at school as part of the lunch menu.”

The three food forests have been built in Myrtle Grove Elementary, Parkview Elementary and Lake Stevens Elementary, with each forest occupying between 3,500 and 10,000 square feet of school grounds. With benches for students to sit on, the forests were built so teachers could hold classes in a green space and teach nutrition lessons.

The size of the gardens allow students to take home some of the fruits and veggies to cook in family meals.

LHMG will also work with the 25 schools to make sure children are getting breakfast. Many students who don’t have breakfast at home either come to school late or right when school starts, missing the free school breakfast.