TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Mom always says eat your veggies.
Now she's getting some help with that message from the state of Florida.
The Florida Department of Agriculture unveiled its Fresh for Florida Kids Garden in Tallahassee on Monday. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam crouched down along with the children and they used their hand shovels to plant some soybeans in one section of the garden.
It's growing a variety of Florida fruits and vegetables. Putnam calls it an outdoor classroom that highlights healthy eating habits for schoolchildren.
Did you know half of your plate is supposed to be filled with fruits and veggies? Putnam says that's one of the lessons the Kids Garden aims to teach.
"We know that there is a strong connection between good nutrition and academic success and we know that when kids connect where their foods come from they're more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. They're more likely to develop lifelong healthy eating habits and so this is just one example of that."
The garden is laid out in the shape of a plate to reflect the federal government's new model for the five food groups, My Plate. It's located at the Holland Building, the headquarters for Florida's new Office of Food, Nutrition, and Wellness. It oversees four million meals for schoolchildren across the state each day.
Putnam hopes children from across the state will tour the Kids Garden when they visit Tallahassee.
"I think lesson plans that get kids outside and let them combine math and science and health and nutrition in lessons like this that allow them to have experiences, I think that makes a lasting impression."
The incidence of obesity among children and adults is on the rise. It's estimated 60 percent of the nation's health care costs are spent on diet-related illness, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Putnam hopes examples like the Kids Garden help teach healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.
"If we can start to bend that cost curve early through projects like this, and eating healthier in the school lunch program and school breakfast program, then we're developing healthier lifestyles, we're lowering health care costs for all of society and we're going to have a more fit society, a healthier society."