The Boys & Girls Club is making its mark and creating even more benefits through its nutrition-focused program.

A hub for students to spend their free time after school, allowing them to stray away from bad environments, the Boys & Girls Club has helped out many children and families through its efforts.

Continuing that tradition, the Boys & Girls Club launched up its nutrition education program three years ago, starting with a small area of dirt that has now grown into a beautiful garden. Students maintain the grounds and can freely harvest their food rather than resorting to unhealthy snacks from the gas station.

The purpose of the program is to teach kids about healthy habits and how to grow their own food. Living in a county that is a major food source for the country, it is a way for students to learn more about their hometown and the effort that is required to put food on the table.

Program adviser Natalie Martinez said, “The overall goal is to make sure students as a whole know how easy and simple it is to grow food no matter where you are.”

The nutrition education program helps educate students about plant life, healthy habits and the hard work that goes into it. It’s even a way to allow the children to learn and connect to their hometown’s strong agricultural history.

In addition to the educational aspect of the program, the activities are also something the kids enjoy doing at the Boys & Girls Club.

Jalyssa Carmona, who is 7 years old, says her favorite thing about the garden is “pulling weeds because it’s fun.”

As the students tend to the garden and see the plants grow, they get to harvest them together.

Once the food is harvested from the garden, it is displayed up front, allowing the parents to take whichever food was harvested that day, meaning that the students get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and enjoy a healthy meal.

“It’s amazing,” Martinez said. “I didn’t know anything about gardening before but I’ve learned so much. … It’s so rewarding to know that we are educating students to be prepared to be able to grow no matter where they are.”

As the program continues to progress, its benefits only widen, from teaching kids about healthy habits to providing them the lifelong tool of learning how to grow their own food. As the students are taught the hard work that surrounds their daily lives in Kern County, it provides them with pride in their hometown. With that, the Boys & Girls Club is embracing its roots in Bakersfield. 

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