Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years across the United States and here in our community. In an effort to address this major health issue, the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation has awarded Crouse Hospital a $10,000 grant to expand nutrition education activities at Hughes Magnet Elementary School. Wegmans is also participating in the program with food donations.
The grant will provide funding for a monthly after-school program to educate parents and children on how to move in the direction of better eating, specifically by using portion control and adding more fruits and vegetables into their daily diet. “Healthy Habits at Hughes” will kick off Thursday, Oct. 6 during an open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school. That evening, some 300 students and parents will learn about the program and enjoy healthy food samples.
Open to all Hughes’ families, the program will be presented monthly from November 2011 through June 2012 during parent meetings at Hughes and feature a presentation by a Crouse Hospital registered dietitian and cooking demonstration by the hospital’s executive chef. Information presented will include healthy food choices, how to shop for and prepare healthy food and portion control. A different topic and recipe will be focused on each month.
“Each family will have the opportunity to see the recipe prepared, taste the food and receive a meal to take home or eat before they leave that evening,” says Leesa Kelley, manager of the hospital’s community health outreach program. “A variety of fruits and vegetables will be available to add to the meals, to emphasize the value of these foods, as part of a healthy diet. The next day, the entire student body will receive samples of the same fruits or vegetables we served.”
Each student and parent in the program will be given the option to have their Body Mass Index (BMI) taken and then tracked during the program to demonstrate progress toward preventing obesity. The students and their parents also will complete eating habit/activity surveys at the start and finish of the program.
According to the Onondaga County Health Department’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, national obesity rates for children two to five years of age have risen sharply from five percent in 1980 to 10.4 percent in 2008, with nearly 20 percent of children six to 11 years of age classified as obese.
Since 2004, Crouse Hospital has partnered with the Syracuse City School District to support health and wellness efforts. This initiative was started to further the hospital’s mission to promote community health, and allows hospital staff to share their expertise and time for important community programs. In 2008, the Syracuse City School District Foundation presented Crouse with its Community Partnership Award for the hospital’s work with the district and, in particular, Hughes Magnet Elementary School.
The Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation strives to enrich the lives of kids in need within the Central New York community, as well as provide support for eliminating cancer through research and advocacy.
For more information about the healthy Habits at Hughes program, contact Leesa Kelley at Crouse Hospital at 315/470-7105.