A 2015 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 34 percent of all kids between the ages of 2 and 19 ate fast food on any given day. Parents are faced with a multi-billion dollar advertising industry working to pack more junk into our kids just to make a profit. As a result, kids are less familiar with the very types of foods that are most healthy for them, like fruits and veggies.
Lack of access to nutritious foods and lack of information about what is healthy is driving these distressing statistics. That’s why Chihuahuan Desert Charities agricultural education program is so vital to the health and future of Las Cruces. We fill a much-needed void by providing the knowledge and tools necessary to tackle obesity and foster healthy environments that lead to healthy life choices. Our programs also ensure access to healthy food, improving the health outcomes of the community.
Childhood is not a place where you can say, 'Let everyone eat what they want and we can fix it later,'" said Sandra Hassink, then the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Health doesn't happen by accident."
Agriculture in the Mesilla Valley is much more than just farming, tractors, and crops. It’s been a way of life for centuries predating the arrival of the Spaniards. Native Americans of several tribes raised corn, squash, and other vegetables in the fertile soil.
We are raising a generation that no longer understands this culture. In Doña Ana, unemployment, childhood hunger, access to healthy food, and diet-related diseases are at unacceptable levels. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are a few of the problems associated with poor nutrition. These issues affect not only the individual but the community as a whole, impacting everything from health care costs to worker productivity to quality of life. Food environment has a direct impact on health.
Children today are given endless messages that happiness comes from earning lots of money, having the latest gadgets and wearing the right brands of clothes. Meanwhile, the education system is increasingly based on the notion that academic achievement is all that really matters. Qualities like kindness and courage, literally don’t count. This can create a dichotomy between success, status, money, and security on the one hand, and generosity, community and connection with nature on the other.
Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it, struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Check out this kid-friendly learning video:
So what are we doing about this problem? Chihuahuan Desert Charities thinks the best way to teach children about food is through discovery. And the best way to discover food is to get every child growing and cooking food. Agriculture studies enable a more intelligent consumer of food. Our goal is to retrofit the education system to involve agricultural studies and build a thriving agricultural economy, for healthy regions, healthy watersheds, and a healthy farm culture.
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead
The DYGUP & SUSTAIN Program is a non-profit dedicated to regenerative organic agricultural practices to teach the benefits of land stewardship in the Paso del Norte Region. DYGUP, an acronym for Developing Youth from the Ground Up, is available to youth ages 14-17. The SUSTAIN program targets adults over 18 and combines "Roots Of Success" Environmental Literacy Curriculum with intensive farmer training. The DYGUP/ Sustain Program has many partnerships in the community including Taylor Hood Farms, Backyard Farms LC, First Christian Church, and Las Cruces High-School. Chihuahuan Desert Charities is proud to be the fiscal sponsor for DYGUP & Sustain and support their important work in the Las Cruces community.
Support the DYGUP & Sustain Program at Legacy Farm in Las Cruces by visiting ChihuahuanDesertCharities.org.