Children with disabilities including autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome often face significant sensory issues around food texture, taste and moisture content that put them at high risk for lifelong obesity. Mealtimes can be a constant battle, and many youngsters end up eating unhealthy meals or snacks of processed foods high in fat, carbohydrates and additives.
Thanks to a generous $5,000 grant from the Sprouts Neighborhood Grants program (sponsored by the Sprouts market on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino), participants at Via West Campus are engaging in a year-long program focused on farm-to-table gardening and culinary arts. Growing MyPlate offers healthy food education and nutritional guidance as youngsters cultivate produce in the garden and greenhouse; harvest and prep produce; sample unfamiliar fruits and vegetables; and create healthy MyPlate meals following the USDA Food Model. They’ll take home foods created on campus and recipes to inform parents about the foods sampled and to promote home carryover of learning.
Growing My Plate builds on a multi-year partnership between Via and the local Farrington Historical Foundation, which underwrote the building of the year-round greenhouse, wages for curriculum development and adapted instruction, and purchase of culinary arts and horticultural equipment over the past three years.