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Kids and Healthy Eating Can Go Together
Date:12/27/2012

ended to getting kids involved in food preparation, too.

Denise Hunter, president of the nonprofit FAME Assistance Corporation, launched the Let's Move California initiative in June, and one of its first activities was a series of cooking classes for parents and kids. "When you come into the class, you get a demonstration of how you make the food, and at the end of the class, you get a grocery bag full of the ingredients," Hunter said. "That means you can go home and put what you just learned into practice and immediately prepare a healthy meal for your family," she explained.

"What we really hope to create is a place where parents and children understand that they need to make healthy choices, and that becomes part of the family culture," she said. "Neither is dragging the other along. They're making healthy food and lifestyle choices together."

Some health advocates also believe that cooking classes, once a staple of middle school curriculums, should be brought back to all public schools. A study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that a nutrition education program, called Cooking with Kids, not only improved kids' cooking and nutrition skills but also incorporated geography, math, science and cultural lessons, and improved the youngsters' social skills through working together to prepare a meal and then enjoying it together.

Improving access to fruits and vegetables, a problem in some poorer neighborhoods, also has gotten some attention in the effort to improve kids' diets. Though farmer's markets have helped fill the void in some cities, their foods tend to be more expensive.

To counter this, and make locally grown foods more available to lower-income families, New York City has introduced a program that gives food stamp recipients a coupon called a Healthy Buck for every $5 in food stamps spent at a farmer's market. Each Healthy Buck is worth another $2 for food bought at a farmer's market.

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