Eat Well, Play Hard in Clifton
Center for Family Resources has five Head Start centers in Clifton, but the Board of Education site had the highest rate of overweight and obese children. Over half of the children fell into this category, so the nutrition team decided to focus on this site for the first session of the Eat Well, Play Hard in Child Care Settings curriculum. The curriculum focuses on healthy eating and increasing physical activity for families at home and at the center. Six lessons were chosen by parents from the ten offered. These included Vary Your Veggies, Choose Your Fun, Cooking with Children, Smart Snacking, Fitness is Fun, and Growing Goodness. Each one included a lesson for the students in the classroom, a parent/ child lesson, and follow up nutrition or physical activities for the teachers to use during the rest of the week.
For one of the classroom lessons, the children were thrilled to plant beans and snap peas in upcycled toilet paper rolls and watch as the plants grew. A few weeks later we did a taste test of cooked vs raw green beans. The children used all of their senses as they snapped the ends off the beans, broke them open, and counted the seeds inside. They compared the differences in color and texture between the two. It was a really fun and relaxed way for them to taste vegetables and vote on which they preferred. We did lots of fun and delicious plant based snack preparation and found that the children were much more likely to try these new foods because they had helped make them. We also had lessons focused on getting the kids moving with a lot of silly dancing, stretching, and acting like animals.
The parent lessons were great as well! Teaching the children in the classroom about healthy living is one thing, but getting the parents involved certainly steps up the game. We made some delicious simple recipes, showing the parents how to safely get their children involved in cooking and how easy making certain recipes from scratch can be. The best part was they all got to take home ingredients and some kitchen tools to recreate the recipe at home! We all brainstormed about ways the entire family could be more physically active at home and spend less time in front of screens.
The most promising part of this session was analyzing the height and weight data. The children’s heights and weights were taken in fall 2017 and then again after our last lesson. The data showed that there was a 12% decrease in obesity, a 10% decrease in overweight, and a 12% increase in overall healthy weights. We look forward to the next round with these encouraging results!
About the Grantee
Center for Family Resources is a private, non-profit agency dedicated to meeting the educational needs of income eligible children and their families from Passaic County. Head Start provides comprehensive services in the areas of education, social services, nutrition, and mental health. We also assist families to obtain health and dental services.