Nearly 20% of kids in the United States are obese, and reive roughly 3.5 hours of nutrition education a year. There is a fantastic opportunity to change those dismal statistics. There is an opportunity to improve the current state of nutrition education within the school system. We do not have the power to allocate more of the federal or state government's budget towards healthier school meal programs, but we can provide students with a basic understanding of what healthy eating entails. We intend to provide quality and accessible nutrition education to students to ensure better future outcomes.
A program based in Atlanta, GA called C.H.O.I.C.E.S. showed promise after its founding in 2002 by a low-income mother who had an obese child. Looking for support and an outlet to learn about healthy eating, the program provides cooking lessons for parents and children to learn how to cook and eat healthy while on a budget. The lessons taught here are hands-on and in-depth, leaving a long-term impact on both the parents and children to live healthier lives to avoid the health risks that come with being obese or living at low income. The "Pick-a-Better-Snack" program in Johnson County, Iowa works with K-3 students for 9 weeks (25 min a session), and the kids are encouraged to be brave and try the new fruit or vegetable that is introduced into the class that week. This program's intention is that when students are at the grocery store with their parents, they will request healthier food. Years following the implementation of this program, a study showed an increase in at-home fruit and vegetable consumption by students that had participated in the curriculum.
These are two examples of programs that effectively teach elementary students about nutrition. We think that we can devise a plan that integrates the student-parent component and trying new food aspects of these programs to make nutrition education fun and worthwhile. Nutrition education is more effective when given weekly, rather than in long chunks a few times a year, where the only lesson taught is the food pyramid.
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