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TSET Grant Helps Altus Students Grow Healthy Foods

ALTUS, OK (June 9, 2020)Altus Public Schools recently introduced their students to new hydroponic grow towers made possible by a $30,000 Healthy Incentive Grant for Schools from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

Shaundra Covey, program coordinator at the Jackson County TSET Healthy Living Program, is pleased with the outcomes.

“Altus has been diligently pursuing wellness strategies for several years now and all of us at TSET have enjoyed working with the schools to achieve better outcomes for their kids,” Covey said. “Seeing the schools take the TSET grant funds and use them to purchase cutting-edge technology that brings food right into their own cafeteria is amazing.”

The hydroponic grow towers – a method of growing food without soil – now is being incorporated into the school’s curriculum and is creating new learning opportunities for the next generation of Oklahoma farmers.

Roe Worbes, superintendent of Altus Public Schools; Sabina Garrett, director of Altus Public Schools Child Nutrition Program; and several teachers all agree that the towers enhance both the junior high STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and high school agriculture programs.

“This has been a great project that involves students and staff; we are able to use the produce that comes from the towers in our cafeterias to feed our students. That’s exciting,” Garrett said.

In addition to the grow towers, the district also used the TSET grant to buy hydration stations and sensory play paths, which help students improve healthy habits such as drinking water and promoting between-class exercise. 

The TSET Healthy Incentive Grant for Schools is available to all public-school districts that meet grant criteria. To qualify, school districts must successfully adopt health promoting policies that help create a learning environment that establishes and supports healthy behaviors for students, teachers and staff.

A video produced by Altus Public Schools about the grown towers can be viewed on the TSET YouTube channel here.

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TSET was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000 as a long-term strategy to improve health and ensure settlement payments from a 1998 multi-state lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Funds are used to improve the health of all Oklahomans and are placed in an endowment to ensure a growing funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs. To learn more, visit

TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.