The Delta Health Alliance

Community Gardens / Delta EATS

Delta EATS (Edible Agriculture Teaching Students) connects 5th grade students and curriculum with a school garden and opportunities to cook in an outdoor kitchen with harvested produce. This enhances academic achievement and cultivates an empowering opportunity for students to gain the knowledge and values to make food choices that are healthy for them, their communities, and the environment. DHA’s Delta EATS team is composed of the Delta EATS Program Manager, Education Coordinator, AmeriCorps Food Corps and DeltaCorps service members, and Delta State University Dietetic Interns. Together, the team partners with schools administrators, food service and cafeteria staff, and 5th grade teachers to conduct numerous activities.

  • Design, install, and maintain robust school garden sites
  • Coordinate and teach weekly garden and cooking lessons for 5th grade that are rigorous and connected to academic standards for English and Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies
  • Support School Garden Teams that guide each garden’s vision and support activities
  • Promote fruits and vegetables through regular taste tests, cooking with students, and promoting healthy foods bulletin boards
  • Host Family Garden Nights to connect parents and the school community to the garden
  • Provide summer garden camps for students at the school garden sites

Delta EATS uses best practices from model school garden programs from across the country in the areas of garden design, classroom procedures and management, garden rituals, and growing methods. One best practice is splitting each garden class into three small groups of 6-8 students. For each garden lesson, two small groups are each led by a trained Delta EATS team member, and the third small group is led by the 5th grade teacher. Our garden design also aligns with this practice as each small group has its own learning station, garden bed, and supplies. Delta EATS also uses the square foot garden method. This method not only helps maximize garden bed plantings, but allows for structured student procedures and incorporation of mathematics. Together, these best practices, and many more, allow for efficient and effective instruction for students.

Currently, Delta EATS is operating school gardens in Shaw (Bolivar County) and Leland and Hollandale (Washington County) with plans to expand its reach into communities.

Delta EATS improves knowledge from pre to post test, but not yet habits. Children are missing access to the food needed for healthy habits.