Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities Launches

Garden Initiative

On Saturday, April 30, 2016 the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities participated in a garden build project from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Al Lenzmeier West Side Club, located at 291 East Belvidere, St. Paul MN 55107. Donations from Home Depot and Lowes, along with monetary support from Cargill and Target, allowed the Boys & Girls Club to successfully complete this project.

This garden build is part of a farm to table education initiative with the Boys & Girls Clubs, which incorporates a garden and STEM-based nutrition program. Club members have been assisting with the garden build by planting their own seeds and helping to plan the garden project.

The garden build project is a component of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities’ Healthy Lifestyles initiative and programming, which is one of three priority outcomes that make up the framework for all Club programs.

The goal of this initiative is to empower youth to commit to a healthy lifestyle; increase fitness; decrease the number of negative peers as friends; increase levels of integrity; and resist smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs. Healthy Lifestyles programming also ensures that youth have access to healthy meals and snacks during out-of-school time, and that youth are armed with the knowledge they need to make healthful decisions regarding nutrition. In doing so, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities effectively promotes a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging, power, and influence.

Club programming has been making a significant imprint on the lives of youth for generations. A major component of the Healthy Lifestyles initiative is the Kids Feeding Kids program, in which youth prepare, serve, and clean up after daily meal. Since approximately 71 percent of Club member family incomes are below $25,000 per year and 55 percent make less than $15,000 per year, proper nutrition is often an impossibly large financial burden. This program offers Club members with an essential meal while also teaching them skills that are needed for everyday life including nutritional understanding, kitchen safety, sanitation, and the ability to follow recipes and directions.

Last year, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities served 155,023 nutritious meals to Club members. Approximately 6,000 of these children regularly relied upon the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities for meals.

The upcoming garden build projects at several Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities will be an invaluable addition to existing Healthy Lifestyles programming. Through planning and building their own garden, Club members will use a hands-on approach to further exploring their knowledge about nutrition.