ORLANDO, Fla. — Finding access to fresh, healthy food is an uphill battle for many families in Central Florida.

  • Student garden at Orange Center Elementary School
  • Orlando Health program to help students learn healthy eating
  • Also helps combat food deserts in Orlando

To help work toward a solution to the problem, Orlando Health started a program at Orange Center Elementary to help teach kids how to grow fruit and vegetables.

“What is one thing that we have inside of this box? We are going to go with Londin,” a school volunteer said, picking out a student.

“Lemon balm,” yelled Londin Myers. 

On Tuesday, 340 students helped harvest and taste the plants that they planted last fall.

“This right here is spearmint, and here is our peppermint, and here is our thyme,” pointed out a volunteer.

The concept is really important, because the Paramore neighborhood is considered a food desert. Food deserts are normally urban areas that don’t have close access to full grocery store, so most residents rely on convenience stores.

The tough truth about many convenience stores is that their prices can be higher and the food not as fresh.

"Sometimes there is really good junk food, and you want to eat it so bad, but you can’t,” said Myers. “But, if you just junk food all the time your body won’t be healthy.”

On Harvest Day, the students also focused on physical activity, hydration, and the importance of healthy growth.  The idea is that these healthy ideas, will make their way home with the students.

“We are seeing more, and more parents. And we do activities, throughout the year, not just on Plant day and Harvest Day,” said Lainie Fox Ackerman with Orlando Health.

Myers said her family now even has their own garden. 

“We are working on planting vegetables and stuff,” said Myers.

With this program, Orlando Health said it’s seen an 82 percent increase in health literacy among the students involved.