Gerald the Dog educates youth to combat food insecurity in Arizona
PROJECT GOAL: To educate youth to grow their own vegetables as a way to empower them to develop healthier eating habits.
The old saying you are what you eat is very true. When children are fed a diet that focuses on nutritious foods, their overall physical and mental health improve. Unfortunately, one in six students in the Alhambra neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona experience or are at risk of experiencing food insecurity. Furthermore, the locally available foods are usually not nutritious due to the high number of food deserts in the area. To address this issue, a team of young scholars created Gerald, a robot that will help students in grades 4-8 grow their own vegetables in a fun and simple way. Their goal is to educate and empower youth to develop healthier eating habits, which will positively affect their mental and physical health. Despite the pandemic, this design team reached out to several teachers in the Alhambra community and surveyed over 150 students. As a result, three teachers have committed to using Gerald with their classrooms in the Fall of 2021.