DHK Wellness Strategies Expands Healthy Youth Project Through $97,000 Grant from USDA’s Farm to School Implementation Program

Program Has Engaged High School Youth to Make Healthy Choices for Five Years

DALLAS, Nov. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — DHK Wellness Strategies, a leading wellness initiative in Dallas led by Debra Peek-Haynes, also the first lady of Friendship West Baptist Church, has been awarded a generous grant of $97,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant. This significant grant will propel the progress of the groundbreaking Healthy Youth Project, in collaboration with Dallas ISD. The project is focused on four schools within the Model of Excellence cluster, comprising one middle school and three high schools.

The primary objective of the Healthy Youth Project is to emphasize the significance of nutrition and ensure access to fresh produce for the most vulnerable students within the public food system. Through the project, students learn the benefits of how a healthier diet will significantly impact their overall mental and physical health.

Through the Farm to School Grant, the Healthy Youth Project will provide children with hands-on experiences such as planting, watering, and harvesting fruits, vegetables, and herbs, fostering a deep understanding of nutrition and agriculture. The Farm to School Implementation Project, funded by this grant, will be focused on three key areas:

  • Encouraging increased consumption of fruits and vegetables through the expansion of promotional activities, taste tests, and the distribution of fresh produce at schools, emphasizing the benefits of locally grown products.
  • Expanding experiential and agriculturally based learning opportunities through the establishment of school gardens on additional campuses.
  • Developing and implementing an integrated curriculum to reinforce food and nutrition-based learning throughout the school environment.

Through this grant, DHK Wellness Strategies plans to extend the comprehensive Farm to School program to approximately eight elementary, middle and high schools located in food desert communities. This expansion aims to enhance access to local foods through local procurement and agricultural education efforts, benefiting more than 1,000 K-12 students in Dallas, Texas, where over 99% are eligible for free and reduced priced meals.

“It is critical that we change the health trajectory of underserved children and youth through education and providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Debra Peek-Haynes, president and CEO of DHK Wellness Strategies.

By utilizing the grant, DHK Wellness Strategies aims to empower students by enabling access to fresh fruits and vegetables within their communities and providing them with the resources required to establish and maintain organic school gardens. This initiative will be particularly transformative for the Model of Excellence cluster, situated in underserved, food-desert communities, and will facilitate convenient access to fresh produce for students and their families.

Anticipated outcomes of the program include increased vegetable acceptability at school, improved knowledge of nutrition and plant science, and heightened student engagement in moderate physical activity. Progress will be monitored through comprehensive tracking measures, including food production records and pre-and post-program surveys to evaluate changes in knowledge and physical activity levels.

For more information on how to participate in Farm to School activities within your community, please visit dhkwellnessstrategies.com. DHK Wellness Strategies warmly welcomes donations to support its various programs aimed at enriching the lives of economically disadvantaged children and adults.

About DHK Wellness Strategies Inc.

DHK Wellness Strategies Inc. was created to address the needs of youth, children and adults in inner cities with specific focus on the African American and Hispanic communities. Led by President and CEO Debra Peek-Haynes, Education/Bilingual Consultant Cecilia Criner and agricultural consultants, DHK Wellness Strategies Inc. consults with licensed healthcare professionals to devise plans and workshops to address health related issues in under-served communities. More information can be found at www.dhkwellnessstrategies.com.

About Debra Peek-Haynes
Debra Peek-Haynes is a wellness advocate, host of radio segment, “Let’s Talk Health”, bestselling author, “The Beginners’ Guide to Healthy Living” and founder of “Debra’s Healing Kitchen” where she travels the world speaking about healthy-living, conducting demonstrations on how to cook delicious healthy soulful food, especially in communities of color, where obesity and poor nutrition contribute to high mortality rates. Debra developed this passion when she was healed from infertility through proper nutrition. For more information, please visit www.debrashealingkitchen.com.

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SOURCE DHK Wellness Strategies, Inc.