Inspired by Dr. Fuhrman's nutrition message: Food for Life teaches children and families how to enjoy healthy foods
by Natalie Obermeyer
Vegetables consist of less than 2% of American children’s diets, and the CDC predicts that for the first time in history the current generation of children will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.1,2
Jennifer Taylor and Theresa Roden of the Wellness Foundation are aiming to improve the health of children and their families by inspiring them to eat nutrient rich diets. Students learn the how they can prevent diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and live long, healthy lives through what they eat. In each class students learn a lesson about a specific topic such as the benefits of the phytonutrients in vegetables, the “not so sweet truth” about sugar, and the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Then, students get to prepare and eat their own nutrient-rich foods including green smoothies, fruit salad with cashew cream, and avocado bean dip. The children love the fun, interactive class and discovering many new healthy foods.
“We have a choice and I choose to be a healthy kid. Thank you Food for Life!”– Luis, student
“I never thought eating healthy and learning about nutrition could be so much fun. I do not want to have heart disease or type 2 diabetes when I grow up, so I pledge to lead a healthier life. This program has really changed my life.” – Ben, student
Food for Life has dramatically impacted the entire families of its participants. Students are encouraged to invite their parents and even grandparents to attend the classes, and students beg their parents to attend. Parents join the classes over their lunch hour, and it is not uncommon for the class to have almost 100% parent participation. With the whole family learning together, the nutrition students learn in school can be implemented at home as well. Parents themselves are experiencing the benefits, and many no longer need insulin or other drugs.
Food for Life is now expanding its program to other schools and is in the process of creating a curriculum for pre-school and 3rd graders. Eventually they plan to provide the program for pre-school, kindergarten, third, sixth, ninth and twelfth graders. They want to empower as many students as possible to take control of their health by developing habits that will last a lifetime.
Children can learn to love healthy food, and the Food for Life program is proof of this. Well done, Wellness Foundation, for exposing children to nutritional knowledge and healthy cooking!
1Fox MK, Pac S, Devaney B, Jankowski L. Feeding infants and toddlers study: What foods are infants and toddlers eating? L Am Diet Assoc 2004;104(1 Suppl):s22-s30
2Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, Carnes BA, Brody J, Hayflick L, Butler RN, Allison DB, Ludwig DS. A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. N Engl J Med. 2005 Mar 17;352(11):1138-45. PubMed PMID: 15784668.