Goshen Boys and Girls Club garden provides health and food education

The Boys & Girls Club of Goshen expands programs for health and wellness with a victory garden.
By Kate Stoltzfus of the Elkhart Truth
Posted on May 30, 2014
With the support of staff, attendees will be responsible for daily care and harvesting. The garden is one of several initiatives in a four-year commitment the club made last September to address hunger and wellness issues.
The programs will work in conjunction with a new cafeteria, funded this spring by a $250,000 grant from the Elkhart County Community Foundation. Adrianne Penner, associate executive director for the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen, believes their work is about exposure and education.
“We took a step back and said, ‘How can we serve food better?’” said Penner. “A lot of our kids wouldn’t be able to go into a grocery store and tell you what the produce is. If we can show them, teach them, give them experience – not just in growing, but in cooking – they’re set to make decisions for themselves.”
Despite only having space to seat 42 kids, the club serves about 360 snacks to children on a daily basis, as well as 140 dinners in the evenings to more than a third of its attendees.
In addition to a larger cafeteria, the club will build a teaching kitchen for kids to gain “cooking experience that will equip them for a lifetime,” Penner said. “Many kids cook for their siblings right now, so it’s not just about preparing them for the future; it’s also about addressing current needs.”