genHkids Garden Educator to testify in Washington

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SPRINGFIELD – genHkids’ garden educator Andy Heck is scheduled to testify in front of the House Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research on Tuesday, February 2.

WAND News has previously covered genHkids in the past when they received a donation from County Market and when they gave away produce in a team-up effort with Molina Healthcare. The organization aims “to create a generation of healthy kids” through education, empowerment, improving nourishment and increasing physical activity.

Heck’s testimony will be focused on the importance of increasing direct market farm sales to schools.

genHkids’ Eat Real at School programs are designed to support schools in transitioning away from serving processed foods as part of their school lunch and breakfast programs. The programs work to help schools move toward a scratch cooking model.

Organization officials say the benefits of eating “real foods” and using these programs is “undeniable.”

They also point out that there are several issues related to providing produce to schools, including regulations making it difficult for local farmers to sell directly to schools. This is what Heck hopes to highlight on Tuesday.

Heck hopes to encourage Congressional members to vote for the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, which includes funding for the USDA Farm to School act, which encourages schools to procure more locally grown produce.

Executive Director of genHkids Jen Dillman feels that encouraging schools to partner with local farmers for produce is an important next step in their mission to getting children to adopt healthy lifestyles from an early age.

“Through our work in schools in Sangamon County, we have seen the benefits first hand of farm to school programs in schools. Nutrition and garden educations connects children to their food,” Dillman adds.

Heck’s testimony will be live here.

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