Sunday, August 15, 2010

How a local school curbs Childhood Obesity

A preschool/kindergarten in Bloomington is taking big steps to try and curb the childhood obesity epidemic. Bright Horizons at Bloomington is an early learning center that cares for kids ages two-years-old to kindergarten. Other locations also provide child care for birth to two and after school care for older kids. Assistant Director Amy Starr said, “We are remodeling our kitchen to make it a full service kitchen. We have hired a chef and are working on healthy snacks and meals.” The school also has a new exercise area where daily classes will be held.

Prior to the renovation at Bright Horizons, the preschool didn’t have a stove or oven. The meals were catered in and consisted of canned vegetables and some processed food. Starr said, “Now we will have warm breakfasts, more fresh fruits and vegetables.” Starr said she thinks it’s the way a lot of child care centers/preschools will be in the future. She suspects around 50% of preschools in the Bloomington area now have a full service kitchen. "We are trying to hit on a healthier lifestyle and healthy eating," said Starr.

Example of catered in meal: chicken nuggets, broccoli and cheese dip, fruit cocktail and a muffin
Snacks:crackers and teddy grahams

Example New Menu: chicken and noodles, fresh green beans (instead of canned) and homemade apple sauce.
Breakfast: silver dollar pancakes, fresh blueberries and milk
Snacks: fresh fruits and vegetables

Starr said, "We really want them to have that good meal during the day. When we leave school we go to practice, we are in a hurry, etc. It's common for parents to swing by a fast food place. We feel it's very important to get that nutrition at school."

The school is also teaching by example. The teachers actually sit down and eat lunch with the kids-the same menu. "We chat with the kids during meal time. I am a mother of two boys and I know sometimes it's go, go go and you just don't have time to ask how was your day?" said Starr.

Bright Horizons also made big changes to the play area. They got rid of the climbers and put in a large carpeted area where they will be holding exercise classes from yoga to aerobics. The idea is to give kids P.E. time even in the winter months. Starr said, "We just know it's important to start early-to get kids used to start doing a daily exercise activity through out the day."

Bright Horizons at Bloomington (2432 Maloney Drive) is holding an open house for parents and teachers to see the new changes August 21st from 2-5p.m.There will be an instructor there to show kids what will happen during the exercise classes.

It seems the federal government is trying to implement similar programs at public schools around the nation:

FROM NBC: As families approach the new school year, students across the national will be eating healthier lunches. That's because hundreds of chefs are signing up for the government's "chefs move to school initiative. It encourages culinary experts to help schools prepare tasty and nutritious food for school children.

About 31 million children eat school provided lunches every day and 11 million eat breakfast there...consuming 30 to 50 percent of their calories from school provided meals. First lady Michelle Obama launched the program as part of her campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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