Growing up as the fourth generation of an American farming family, I had the opportunity to establish a great liking for nutritious fruits and vegetables from my family’s farm, a habit that has helped shape my healthy lifestyle today.
I loved strawberry season, when my dad would come home with flats of strawberries still warm from the summer sun. My favorite youth soccer game snack was oranges and carrots. Every summer, I had the opportunity to work with my dad and grandfather to grow the nutritious food you find at your local grocery store. At a very young age, I learned to appreciate the work and dedication my dad practiced when growing the most wholesome, safe and healthy food — not only for our family but for yours.
Not many children have the same upbringing that I did.
With less than 2 percent of the United States population directly involved in production agriculture, more and more children are being raised without basic agricultural education. Failing to teach them this is a critical mistake because when children are educated as to where their food comes from, how their food is grown and what foods are part of a nutritious diet, they are empowered to make healthy lifestyle choices and build wholesome habits for the future.
When children are educated as to where their food comes from, how their food is grown and what foods are part of a nutritious diet, they are empowered to make healthy lifestyle choices and build wholesome habits for the future.
Today’s children face a new frontier of opportunity. Through early engagement with parents, teachers, community members, technology and resources, children are given countless stimuli that affect their education and development, allowing them to become productive members of society. But one fundamental need remains constant, independent of what the future holds for an individual child: All children require proper nutrition for suitable growth and development.
A 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Services study found that children who ate breakfast were better able to tackle dozens of math problems in rapid-fire succession than kids who didn’t have a morning meal.
Adequate nutrition is the cornerstone for allowing children to prosper. It is time that we empower children to become enthusiastic about nutrition to cultivate educated consumers of tomorrow. However, there is a great disconnect between many children and understanding where their food comes from and how to make healthy dietary choices.
Cultivating the Future Through Education
In Alachua County, we have some of the most productive peanut acres in the world, yet simultaneously, there are children enjoying school lunch peanut butter and jelly sandwiches who don’t even know that peanuts grow under the ground. The Miss Gainesville Organization can successfully bridge that educational gap through cross-sectional support from consumers, educators, producers and community leaders and is doing so by supporting my “Cultivating the Future” initiative as Miss Gainesville 2014.
My “Cultivating the Future” platform encourages children to take a greater interest in learning about their food and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle through hands-on activities. These activities allow the children to take pride in their work, learn how to become stewards of the environment and use their imagination. Through a grassroots effort, “Cultivating the Future” allows for the positive discussion of childhood nutrition at the community level.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 32 million children receive meals throughout the school day. By working with schools within the North Florida region, we are bringing attention to the exciting ways that students can use nutrition to serve as role models for their peers.
It’s not just about teaching healthy habits. Children fully learn to appreciate nutritious foods when they are empowered to ask questions in a safe environment about the story behind where their food comes from and how it’s made. By fostering an environment of inquisitive thinking regarding food, children can build confidence in their food choices and better understand how to fully research their ideas.
By fostering an environment of inquisitive thinking regarding food, children can build confidence in their food choices and better understand how to fully research their ideas.
Through the Miss Gainesville alliances, we will bring attention — at all levels of public leadership — to the importance of investing in a healthy future for all. The work we as a community perform today to build up the interest of children in food and nutrition will allow for the continued growth of a healthy, invigorated society.
Did you know?
- Florida ranks second in U.S. production of fresh vegetables
- Florida provides 80 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed in the U.S. during the months of January, February and March each year
- Alachua County has some of the most productive peanut acres in the world
- Agriculturalists are working in our community to allow for nutritious food options year-round
About the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Pageant
The Miss Gainesville Scholarship Program is affiliated with the Miss Florida/Miss America Organization. Rich in history and social significance, the Miss America Organization is a not-for-profit corporation that has maintained a tradition of empowering American women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talents and intelligence. The program is the largest scholarship provider for young women in the world, making more than $45 million in scholarship available each year. The Gainesville titleholder advances to the Miss Florida Scholarship Program with the chance to increase her scholarship earnings.
As a not-for-profit organization, the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Program relies on businesses and individuals in our community to make our program possible. We are proud to bring this opportunity to the young women of North Central Florida. The women involved are deeply committed to community service, as well as their educational goals. Please contact us to find out how Miss Gainesville can help your business today!
Be sure to visit MissGainesville.com and follow Miss Gainesville 2014, Keiko Osumi, at MissGainesville.com as she highlights her community service throughout the year!