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Pictured from left to right: Jenny Proznik, Chonnie Richey, Eunice Cruz

Come and Eat It! Local Chefs Cook with Students to Rally for Improved School Nutrition

More than 1500 students representing 12 elementary schools in Lewisville, Texas will take part in hands-on event centered around student nutrition awareness on May 13, 2016.   With the help of 200 volunteers, students will chop and mix alongside local chefs.   

“Come and Eat It! is a fun, interactive event that will educate students on the relationship between food and nutrition.”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder Independence Gardens (IG).  “A main element of school gardening is nutrition.  When one in three children in Texas is obese, our parent-led organization wanted to ensure that it was a key component in our organizational goals.”

On May 13, 2016 at 8:30 a.m., students will join local chefs as they prepare a dish that is reflective of the nutrition goals of Independence Gardens.   Twelve local chefs, will lead students from across the Lewisville Independent School District (LISD), in this hands-on cooking activity.  Independence Gardens’ collaborative partnerships with companies, like Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, is making it possible for students across LISD to participate in this interactive event.  

“Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen prides itself in creating goodness from scratch, which is why our team is thrilled to participate in Come and Eat It! and teach young minds, and mouths, the importance of cooking and enjoying nutritious meals,” said Ian Baines, President and CEO of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. “We believe in doing things the right way, not the easy way and are looking forward to sharing this value with the students of Lewisville.”

Independence Gardens’ first project is the Community Gardens at Independence Elementary.   Over 700 students currently utilize this outdoor space.  The ultimate goal is to have an outdoor learning space in every elementary school in LISD within five years.  All the Community Gardens in the IG Network have an edible gardening program and integrate at least two conservation programs; from composting to water reclamation.  

“Community and parent involvement is an essential part of education in our schools,” said Lewisville ISD Superintendent Dr. Kevin Rogers. “Partnerships with groups like Independence Gardens give our students additional opportunities to learn, grow and experience the world around them. I am excited our students are able to participate and learn firsthand from local chefs about good nutrition.” 

The partnership with school Districts, such as LISD, is a strategic goal for Independence Gardens.

According to Jenny Proznik, Director, District Liaison, “Bringing this type of program to an LISD campus is a tremendous opportunity for these students.  While school gardens are not a new concept, our Outdoor Learning Spaces all encompass fruits and vegetables, companion planting as a concept (in lieu of pesticides), and include at least two environmental components.  Our local Home Depot stores have been an amazing partner in building these spaces, now we are marshaling the rest of our community in this educational nutrition program.  We are partnering with our LISD Food Service Provider, Aramark, local restaurateurs, chefs, and local business owners to join us in this uprising.  Independence Gardens is rallying the community to educate students on the importance of good nutrition.  What better way for these partners to get involved in our children’s health than through Come and Eat It!” 

Independence Gardens is a 501c3, parent-led organization committed to partnering with schools in developing and implementing experiential edible gardening programs that will provide every student an engaging, meaningful and transformative educational experience.  This uninhibited learning  will be accomplished through working partnerships with our community and schools, aiding in implementation of curriculum that address sustainable and ecological gardening practices, and provide an avenue for students to develop life skills in areas such as nutrition, leadership, and decision making. www.independencegardens.org

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Contact:  Chonnie Richey; Founder, Independence Gardens; cell (214) 500-7206; chonnie@independencegardens.org 

Amanda Brim, Lewisville Independent School District; tel  (469) 948-8108; brima@lisd.net 

Meredith Vandiver, Moroch;  MVandiver@Moroch.com; tel (214) 525-6847