If you’ve ever asked a kindergarten student to flex their muscles, you know the smiles and giggles that follow. Their eyes grow wide when they learn about protein foods that help to keep their muscles strong. The UC-CalFresh Nutrition Education Program has the privilege of working with low-income students in Fresno County to combat childhood obesity through nutrition education.
Students flex their muscles!
Let’s look at a snap-shot of the health of Fresno County children. According to the CDC, 17.5 percent of children in Fresno County ages 2 to 5 years old are over the 95th percentile for their age. What does this mean? Over 21,000 young children are considered overweight. According to the California Department of Education, when compared with the statewide average* there is a greater percentage of 5th (36 percent), 7th (36 percent), and 9th (34 percent) grade students in Fresno County with an unhealthy body composition.
The numbers are jaw-dropping. What’s being done to combat these bleak statistics?
Students pretending to be vegetables in a "vegetable soup."
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
has opened the door for improved menu changes to school breakfasts and lunches with increased funding for meals meeting updated nutritional standards. Examples of some of the new standards include: fat-free and low-fat milk, increased whole grains, a greater variety of colorful vegetables and offering juice that is 100 percent fruit juice.
The UC-CalFresh Nutrition Education Program works in close partnership with local school districts, food service directors, and over 900 Fresno County educators. In support of local school districts’ efforts to improve the nutritional value of the meals served, UC-CalFresh has come along side teachers to provide lessons, nutrition education materials, and healthy food demonstrations monthly. With a family-centered approach in mind, we further extend our reach through parent nutrition education classes and workshops.
Parent nutrition education display.
Working with teachers and students
in the classroom provides students the opportunity to explore and taste healthy foods. Through parent education
, parents gain the tools to select and prepare nutritious, affordable foods for their families. With nutrition education on menu at school and home, students will be prepared to savor the improved menu choices coming to the school cafeteria.
At the University of California Cooperative Extension
, our collaborative efforts are helping build and maintain healthy families and communities.
* Statewide averages in 5th, 7th and 9th are 32percent, 31 percent and 29percent, respectively.