MANATEE-- Michelle Obama has invited five B.D. Gullet Elementary School students to help plant a vegetable garden on the White House lawn Thursday.
Gullett is one of only four schools chosen nationwide and the only Florida school to send students to garden with the first lady. Gullett Elementary was chosen for its commitment to offering students healthier foods and for emphasizing the role of physical activity.
The fifth annual White House garden planting is part of the first lady's Let's Move! campaign to increase awareness of healthy eating habits and exercise in an effort to end childhood obesity.
Obama invited students from schools making exceptional improvements to school lunches after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, 2010 legislation for the USDA's core child nutrition programs and the National School Lunch Program.
The White House acknowledged 28 Manatee County's elementary schools have
received HealthierUS Schools Challenge awards for offering salad entrees daily, whole grain wraps and other healthy options -- all taste-tested by students. The awards will help the schools pay for the White House trip.
Gullett also uses gardening to teach students about health and nutrition. Planting, growing and tasting vegetables gives students a better understanding of nutritious food and promotes healthy school meals.
"We allow kids to have learning experiences around food," said Sandy Ford, director of food services at Gullett Elementary. "When they learn where food comes from and participate in growing it, it helps them learn about making healthier choices."
This year, Gullett Elementary lunches have revolved around the theme Fresh from Florida and has been serving fresh local products daily.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081