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L.A. Area Students Learn About Healthy Eating and Recycling with New Gardens

Fruit and vegetable gardens to be part of LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program activities

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- LA's BEST, the American Chemistry Council, Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Mike Gatto  joined forces this week with students, faculty and volunteers to install school gardens at Los Feliz Elementary and Hooper Avenue Elementary.  The gardens are designed to teach the importance of healthy eating and recycling. The Hooper Elementary garden was installed on December 13 and the Los Feliz garden, December 14. 

Students in kindergarten through fifth grades worked alongside partners and volunteers to assemble garden boxes and plant a wide variety of fruit and vegetable seeds to be harvested in the spring.  Many of the garden materials used—from tables to garden beds, watering cans and bird feeders—were made with recycled plastics, like plastics from milk jugs and water bottles. 

"The garden will be a long-lasting example of healthy living and sustainability," said Edith Ballesteros-Vargas, director of BEST Fit at LA's BEST. "It will serve as a catalyst to foster healthy eating among our afterschool students, who can benefit from more fruits and vegetables in their diet. And it will teach young people to help protect the planet by recycling the items they use every day."

The American Chemistry Council is sponsoring the installation of the "green gardens" at the two LA's BEST school sites as part of a pilot program to teach students about the importance of recycling plastics at home and school.

"We're honored to partner with LA's BEST to bring gardens into elementary schools," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. "By showing students that many things used in gardening can be made with recycled plastics, we can remind them of the importance of recycling everyday items like water bottles, yogurt cups, wraps and bags, and making waste reduction a regular part of a healthy lifestyle."

Senator Lara and staff from Assemblymember Gatto's office were on hand to help unveil a dedication plaque at the school in their district during a ceremony celebrating the installation of the gardens.  "I'm thrilled to be involved in an effort that helps keep our community healthy and fosters better nutrition for our children," said Senator Lara.  "It's partnerships like this that help meet students' needs as well as teach the value of sustainable living and taking care of our environment through recycling plastics and other materials."

As part of the "green gardens" program, all of the 28,000 LA's BEST students will receive educational materials about healthy eating and how to live a sustainable lifestyle through actions like recycling.  "I am proud to be a part of this great effort that partners directly with the students to help them build good habits from eating well to recycling. This hands-on experience will help them learn how to take care of themselves and the environment. It's a great triumph for everyone," said Assemblymember Gatto. 

LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program is a partner in the statewide recycling awareness campaign, Plastics. Too Valuable to Waste. Recycle.TM  The campaign launched in 2008 when representatives from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, ACC and Keep California Beautiful initiated a beach recycling program at State Parks sites in the Los Angeles and Central Coast areas. The program soon spread to State Parks beaches in San Diego, Monterey, Santa Cruz, the City of Brentwood and the City of Woodland. For more information, see www.2valuable2waste.com.

LA's BEST – Better Educated Students for Tomorrow – is a nationally recognized after school education, enrichment and recreation program serving more than 28,000 children with the greatest needs and fewest resources throughout the City of Los Angeles. LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program provides a safe haven for children ages 5 to 12 at 186 elementary school sites each day during the critical hours after school — at no cost to parents. Established in 1988, LA's BEST is a partnership including the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector. LA's BEST is part of Beyond the Bell, whose mission is to ensure that all children and youth in LAUSD have access to high quality, safe and supervised academic, enrichment, and recreation programs that inspire learning and achievement beyond the regular school day. For more information, please visit www.lasbest.org.

About the Plastics Division
The American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division represents leading companies dedicated to providing innovative solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow through plastics.  Ongoing innovations from America's Plastics MakersTM have led to medical advances and safety equipment that make our lives better, healthier and safer every day.  And, advances in plastics are helping Americans save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease waste.  Because plastics are such a valuable resource, the Plastics Division is leading efforts to "reduce, reuse, recycle and recover," including through outreach, education and access to advances in recycling technology.  For more information, see www.americanchemistry.com/plastics.

SOURCE American Chemistry Council

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