The exciting new additions to the garden include three large outdoor planter boxes and 60 small starter pots. The staff at the Fisher Children’s Center are using the planter boxes and starter pots to teach the children how to grow vegetables, develop healthy eating habits and create their own home gardens.
OptumRx, a nearby pharmacy care services company and part of UnitedHealth Group, partnered with ASYMCA to implement the new program, assembling nearly two dozen employee volunteers, all using their own tools and skills. “There was a need to expand our community garden and the OptumRx team here in Carlsbad stepped right up,” said Samantha Holt, the Executive Director of ASYMCA Camp Pendleton. “This is a wonderful partnership that was made possible through funding from the United Health Foundation… The kids have not had this experience at home and it’s great that we are able to watch the children be a part of the process.”
The garden program is a part of the larger ASYMCA Camp Pendleton curriculum to continue to drive healthy eating practices. Many U.S. children don’t get the daily recommended hours of physical activity or eat the recommended amount of vegetables. According to YMCA’s Family Health Snapshot – a survey of parents that gauges their children’s activity levels during the school year, only 12% eat at least eight fruits and vegetables daily. The expanded garden program has allowed ASYMCA Camp Pendleton staff to introduce different fruits and vegetables to children while also creating fun hands on experiences.
“Without hesitation we made a commitment to get the supplies, create the boxes and deliver them to the center,” said Angela Brown, an OptumRx quality engineer who oversaw the company’s participation in the project. “This wonderful project aligns with our company’s goals of encouraging and supporting health and wellness in the community.”
The initiative at Camp Pendleton is part of the Armed Services continued efforts to support youth development and healthy living. “United Health Foundation has allowed us to increase the quality and capacity of our child care operations in Camp Pendleton,” said Bill French, President and CEO of the ASYMCA. “With the support of organizations like UnitedHealth Group, OptumRx and United Health Foundation, the Armed Services YMCA is strengthening our military family at Camp Pendleton.”
Yesi Calderon, the Fisher Children’s Center Site Manager, is excited for the new garden project. “We are grateful for the new addition to the center and can’t wait to see the kids’ reactions when their seeds start to grow,” said Calderon.
ASYMA Camp Pendleton provides a wide array of programs and services focused on strengthening military families.