St. Luke's Partnership Helps Schools Grow Healthy Foods

St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Athletic Trainers and the St. Luke’s Community Health and Preventive Medicine (CHPM) Department recently partnered to get local school gardens in shape and ready for the new school year.

In August, teams of St. Luke’s CHPM and Sports Medicine employees participated in “School Garden Community Day,” during which they tended to the gardens at elementary schools in Allentown, Bangor, Bethlehem and Nesquehoning, Pa., and in Phillipsburg, N.J. During the event, the employees picked produce, weeded, mulched, repaired the raised garden boxes and reinforced fencing.

The school gardens are a St. Luke’s CHPM project in partnership with the Kellyn Foundation. It serves multiple purposes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Furthermore, the latest St. Luke's Community Health Needs Assessment data reveals that only about one of every 10 people consumes the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables must improve in our communities to become healthier and prevent chronic diseases.

School gardens --- which St. Luke's has incorporated into its "Adopt a School" community health efforts --- are an effective way to use the schoolyard as a classroom and reconnect students with the natural world and the true source of their food.

School gardens also help to teach children valuable gardening and agriculture concepts and skills that integrate with several academic subjects. When children are able to grow their own vegetables, they are more likely to eat them. 

Through this program and its associated projects like the “School Garden Community Day,” St. Luke's goal is to bring fresh produce into the hands of our community to make eating healthy the easy and affordable choice.

Following are the school gardens that participated in the 2019 “School Garden Community Day”:

Allentown School Gardens: 

  • Cleveland Elementary
  • McKinley Elementary
  • Union Terrace Elementary

Bangor School Garden:

  • Five Points Elementary 

Bethlehem School Gardens:

  • Donegan Elementary 
  • Fountain Hill Elementary
  • Marvine Elementary
  • William Penn Elementary

Panther Valley School Garden: 

  • Panther Valley Elementary

Phillipsburg School Garden:

  • Phillipsburg Elementary

 

 About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 15,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and 300 outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.  Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania.  In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the Lehigh Valley’s first and only regional medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 34 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 263 residents and fellows.  St. Luke’s is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system with Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital.  In 2019, three of IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals were St. Luke’s hospitals.  St. Luke’s University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven times total and five years in a row. St. Luke’s has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program.  Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.