Shelby Brawner, Extension Assistant/Grant Manager
CHESTER COUNTY & THE FOOD SMART FAMILIES PROGRAM
Rebecca Seratt, Extension Agent
Students and families in Chester County have become very “food smart” over the past couple of years thanks to a program sponsored by United Healthcare called Food Smart Families. With the help of teachers and a teen leader, 4-H agents in our county have been able to reach 4th-8th graders with a variety of healthy eating and fitness opportunities. Small changes have been at the forefront of what we are teaching our students. We want them to know that taking simple and small steps in changing their eating habits and increasing their activity levels will go a long way in improving or maintaining their overall health.
During in-school club meetings, over 1,000 4-H members had the opportunity to make healthy snacks including trail mix and fruit and yogurt parfaits. They also got to taste-test water flavored with berries, oranges, and cucumber. The majority of students seemed to be very skeptical about how the cucumber water would taste, but it turned out to be the crowd favorite for most classes.
Teen leader, Madeline Rudder, conducted a “Rethink Your Drink” lesson for her home school 4-H group and demonstrated how much sugar is in certain sweetened beverages and why water is always a good choice. Chester County 4-H was able to share the importance of drinking water with students of all ages and their family members by providing free refillable water bottles to those who attended the Chester County Back to School Bash—almost 400 bottles were given away!
Students in 6th-8th grades were able to participate in a “Calories In and Calories Out” lesson series where they investigated how many calories from fat, carbohydrates, and sugar are in certain fast food meals. They also learned how to calculate their own heart rate and how long it would take to burn off calories from high calorie foods. They ended the year with learning how to compare food costs through unit pricing.
To celebrate the completion of the Food Smart Families program, the physical education classes for 6th-8th grades received 12 Simply Fit boards. The P.E. instructor at our local junior high school says that the kids love the boards and that they use them every day they can. We are glad they are having fun while increasing their physical activity!