Students at Sonora Elementary School celebrated the end of the 2021-22 school year by enjoying nutritious foods they learned about as part of UAMS Office of Community Health & Research’s Creating Healthy Environments for Schools (CHEFS) program.
Throughout the year, Community Health & Research dietitians taught students about several healthy vegetables. At the end of the school year, students were provided a meal that combined the foods they’d learned about in their after-school sessions.
“Out of 41 kids who enjoyed the dinner, more than 60% said that healthy food is fun,” said Jenn Clampitt, a dietitian on the Community Health & Research team. “The kids really enjoyed the lessons. They were very engaged and enjoyed trying the new foods and recipes.”
Lessons provided to students throughout the year highlighted the nutritional value and growth of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and hydroponic lettuce. Children were served a dinner of a healthy salad with homemade ranch; roasted butternut squash; cornbread; chickpea stew; and a pumpkin pie crumble dessert. Students were also provided healthy recipes to try at home.
Arkansas ranks 7th in the United States for childhood obesity, with more than 20% of Arkansas youth ages 10-17 reportedly obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children ages 2-18. Many of these empty calories come from soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk. Eating a healthier diet can help children perform better in school and can greatly reduce their risk of developing several health issues, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, dental cavities, and more.
For more information about the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research, visit nwa.uams.edu/chr.