Success StorySNAP-Ed Leads the Way to Success for Amazing Youth by Paving a Healthy Road



SNAP-Ed Leads the Way to Success for Amazing Youth by Paving a Healthy Road

Author: Jessica Reed

Planning Unit: KSU Administration

Major Program: Nutrition and Food Systems General

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

According to Kentucky Health News (https://ci.uky.edu/) in 2019-2020, Kentucky had the highest obesity rate in the nation or children between the ages of 10 and 17 years old. Kentucky’s rate is 23.8% while the national rate is at 16.2% according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to a report from State of Childhood Obesity (https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org/), Kentucky children ages 2-4 years old who participated in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program rank sixth highest for obesity among the U.S., at 16.3%, and high school students rank fifth. Since spring 2020, the United States has been dealing with the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Data from State of Childhood Obesity shows an increase in childhood obesity during the pandemic. The national rate of obesity for children 2-19 years old increased to 22.4% in 2020, from 19.3% in 2019. According to State of Childhood Obesity, the estimated annual cost of childhood obesity across the U.S. in healthcare expenses is 14 billion. 

In Montgomery County, Kentucky, Kentucky State University’s SNAP-Ed assistant, and the University of Kentucky’s FCS agent joined together to offer Super Star Chef Camp to Montgomery Countians. The Super Star Chef Camp is geared toward children between 9-12 years old. In each Super Star Chef Camp, the goal for students is to comprehend, interpret, and practice food preparation skills. Students practice kitchen safety and correct appliance use; comprehend and apply food safety procedures; recognize and interpret making healthier food and beverage choices; and increase their daily physical activity. The Super Star Chef Camp within Montgomery County had a strong participant response. Two different camps were offered, each camp being a two-day, all-day camp to meet the needs of all individuals who signed up. The first Super Star Chef Camp was held the first week of July, and the second Super Star Chef Camp was held two weeks later. Between both camps, there were more than 40 children who signed up, with 34 of those children completing all lessons within the two Super Star Chef Camps. The children got hands-on experience with preparing healthy recipes such as roasted breakfast potatoes, egg and veggie scramble, superstar veggie dip, whole-wheat pizza with veggies, spaghetti with meat sauce and a few other recipes. The children were divided into small groups of four or five to make each recipe. In each camp the children learned about food safety and handwashing, the use of cooking terms, cooking techniques with cooking utensils, and the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle. To reinforce the knowledge of Super Star Chef, participants were involved with games and physical activities such as the nature walk, exercise smoothie bike, four corners, nutrition label matchup, and nutrition trivia. 

The participants were given pre-tests and post-tests to compare their understanding of concepts that are taught from the Super Star Chef program. The students among both camps improved their intake and understanding by 55% for eating vegetables as a snack. They improved their physical activity frequency and duration by 50%. The groups also showed many improvements in other pre-test and post-test questions. Also, as a result, the participants looked forward to the two Super Star Chef camps and asked when it would be offered again. One parent came to pick her child up after camp and the child started to cry because she didn’t want to leave the fun at the camp. Another parent said that her child is helping in the kitchen more and tasting more healthy foods. One young girl took some carrot muffins home so she could show her dad what she made and having him to try them. She also went on to make her another batch of carrot muffins at home later that week. When children understand the importance of having a healthy and safe kitchen, they are set up for more growth in what they are consuming, and reducing the risk of food borne illness, correcting unhealthy eating habits, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity. 

              






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