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Kids learn about “stewards of the planet,” climate at local camp

MIAMI — Children attending summer camp at Family Action Network Movement (FANM) learned a key lesson during their final week: how the climate and food deserts impact neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Little Haiti.

“We try to implement fun ways for kids to be healthy and have access to nutritious food and to learn how to be stewards of the planet and how to foster that relationship,” FANM’s climate organizer, Pia Palomino, said. “I wanted to show how easy it is to grow your own vegetables.”

A food desert is when there is not an option for healthy food, or not enough sold at the grocery stores within half a mile from residents. Areas of Miami affected include Liberty City, Overtown, Flagami, Allapattah, Little Havana, Coconut Grove and neighborhoods in Little Haiti, according to a U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Access Research Atlas.

Climate organizers at FANM think it is important for kids to talk about the problems they see in their neighborhoods, and that they can take steps to help their environment.

“They learn from a young age that nature is something they should take care of,” Palomino said.

On Aug. 7, the Senate approved a bill called the “Inflation Reduction Act,” which comes with climate change provisions, with a $400 billion investment to reduce carbon emissions with $4 billion allocated for drought relief. The plan includes tax credits to buy electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines with rebates for customers who buy energy efficient appliances. 

“It’s the largest investment to date to counter climate change, which is also an investment in Florida’s future and our way of life,” the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nikki Fried, said in a statement. 

An interactive map showing food deserts in the Miami area. It presents an overview of how much people earn, who has cars and whether public transit is an option. Source: U.S Department of Agriculture

The FANM summer camp and afterschool programs are free for 5- to 12 year olds. Besides planting this year, other climate activities included watching “The Lorax” movie to encourage kids to talk about what nature means to them.

Other organizations aiding against food deserts in the area are Health and the Hood, which created 10 community gardens in Southern Florida, and Caring for Miami. Each garden is managed by a local resident, with produce offered free of charge to the residents. The program also offers classes in health and nutrition.

Caring for Miami’s “Backpack Program” provides children bags of nutritious food they can prepare on their own at home on the weekends. 

Pia Palomino, FANM’s climate organizer, helps kids plant their seeds.
Palomino sprays the soil with water after poking seeds into the dirt.
Vegetable seeds including onion, spinach, brussels sprouts, cucumber and tomato were planted into the various pots.
Kids wait to take their newly seeded plants outside.
Kids carrying pots through the hallway and out the back door to put outside.
Kids placing their plants into the sunlight by the fence at FANM.
Array of pots with vegetable seeds. 
Kids go back inside after setting the pots with vegetable seeds down.

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