The In Shape and In Season program—a proud health and wellness initiative we strategized that was generously funded through a $11,760 grant from Fletcher Allen Health Care’s Community Benefit Fund—has drawn to a close, and it was a hugely successful venture.
In Shape and In Season was designed to make steps toward reducing childhood malnutrition and childhood obesity. It was strategically developed to serve as a collaborative, family-based, multidisciplinary approach to nutrition and wellness that incorporated:
- access to nutritious foods emphasizing seasonal produce
- hands-on, interactive education in wholesome food preparation
- engaging education about healthy physical activity, and
- information about a variety of services available through area organizations.
The foundation of the program was the idea that, through fostering understanding about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise, malnutrition and obesity may be reduced over time. Research has shown that young people are more likely to make healthier food choices if they are already familiar with healthy food, and they are also more likely to regularly exercise if they are encouraged to do so—resulting in a lifelong impact on their health and well-being. Furthermore, nutrition has been shown to be a critical component of optimal child development and academic performance … and that education about and access to nutritious food choices is an integral part of best positioning students for healthy and successful lives.
When designing the program, Porters Point School Principal Jim Marshall amassed a dynamic team of respected professionals to ensure its success; experts in nutrition (registered dietitian and professional chef Deana Novembrino) and childhood obesity (the University of Vermont’s Dr. Connie Tompkins) as well as Hunger Free Vermont’s “the Learning Kitchen” all contributed to the program. In addition, a team of UVM master of nutrition and food sciences students helped to educate the program’s participants about the important long-term benefits of healthy eating, and exercise and movement science students worked with participants to explore a variety of family-friendly physical activities in order to encourage regular exercise in everyday life.
The program was comprehensive, consisting of a summer series and follow-up sessions in fall, winter, and spring. (To view a short video from the first session, which took place on July 23, click here.)
It provided nutritious ingredients for preparation at home and informational take-home recipe booklets to the participants, incorporated child-friendly recipes in order to encourage child participation, offered education about ways in which entire families can be physically active together, provided on-site child care to facilitate parent participation, hosted family-style dinners with the participants immediately following the cooking classes, provided additional professional training for CSD’s food service professionals—which in turn benefited the school district’s meal offerings for the entire school community—and more.
The program also aligned beautifully with a number of the pathways described in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017.
As part of the grant-funded program, participants received a gift of a professional sauce pan, measuring spoons, a chef knife, measuring cups, a meat thermometer, and a knife sharpener.
We are very proud of the work that was done throughout the program and for all of its successes! Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed!
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