Summer can be a tough time nutritionally for kids in low-income neighborhoods. Without school breakfast and lunch to rely on, children may find themselves subsisting on inexpensive snack foods like chips and soda.
But this summer, nutrition programs at our Dallas and New York locations are helping kids and their families make good choices about food – while having fun.
In Dallas, Camp CHAMPS – which stands for Choosing Healthy Activities, Meals and Positive Self-Esteem – offers a week of healthy eating and exercise for whole families. Campers jump rope and play tug-of-war and other outdoor games. They sample fresh fruits and vegetables while learning how to create a balanced meal.
“Kids get a good understanding of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. With kids you can never start too early or teach them too many times,” says Jeff Howard, a community development specialist with the Children’s Health Fund project in Dallas
In New York, about 10 children crowd around a picnic table in an urban garden in the South Bronx.
“I need two people to help me who haven’t done anything before,” says instructor Jahsi Weste, mixing up a batch of lemonade from fresh juice. Hands shoot up. The two chosen kids go off to a garden patch and come back moments later clutching leaves, which they wash, tear and add to the pitcher.
“It tastes minty!” one boy exclaims, trying a sip. None of them has had fresh mint before.
“They learn to taste different foods. They learn about food,” says Sandra Arévalo, who runs the nutrition programs at our South Bronx Health Center. “And it’s an opportunity to share together.”
After a glass of lemonade, the kids water the garden. They learn about garden tools and how to take care of plants. At the end of class, they harvest cucumbers and tomatoes to take home.
We’re grateful to the Walmart Foundation for their support of these programs as part of their $15-million summer nutrition initiative. The retailer is also collaborating with renowned chef Lorena Garcia on the Eat Healthy Together Challenge, which encourages families to sit down to healthy meals at least three times a week. Spread the word about the challenge – and take part yourself! – by visiting foundation.walmart.com/eathealthytogether.