Thursday, June 28, 2018

WANDA and New York Common Pantry Lead Development Training

Tambra Stevenson (seated in front row) led the morning "Garden Party" session.

On June 7th, PS 69-Journey Prep School hosted a professional development training for teachers and parent coordinators, exploring how school gardens and other nutrition education programming can be incorporated into a core curriculum to build a healthier school environment. The “Garden Party” course, presented by Tambra Stevenson, CEO/Founder of Women Advancing Dietetics, Nutrition and Agriculture (WANDA), a leading initiative to empower people to lead and create healthy communities in Africa and the Diaspora, shared resources and tips for teachers on how to grow healthier eaters in their classrooms. The three-hour interactive training explored how they could teach students about healthy eating through games, reading and healthy celebrations.

Teachers discussed the role of food in tradition, heritage, medicine, and creative expression as well as self-medication and health inequities. They shared methods for addressing unhealthy snacking - the biggest problem in schools - and modeling healthy behaviors. One teacher spoke about how her school holds teacher-led health fairs. Each teacher manages a booth where they share what physical activities they may be doing, for e.g. taking a yoga class or, their healthier eating habits such as bringing a fruit smoothie to school. Teachers also discussed the importance of healthy food policies in their classrooms as well as advocating for school-wide policies. "The best way to address food equity and create healthier food environments is to advocate for changes in food policies (in your school)," said Tambra.

Evelyn Vela, Environmental Program Manager at New York Common Pantry, led a two-part session, 'Building a Culture of Health: Your Garden and Beyond', that provided guidance on how school teachers, staff and aides could encourage healthy eating and increase physical activity in the classroom. In the first session participants learned how to develop a strong wellness council, i.e. a group of school community members who write the school wellness policy and implement it by planning and conducting wellness activities throughout the year. Evelyn pointed out that school gardens serve as an effective way to engage and motivate school wellness councils and school communities, increase fruit and vegetable consumption and teach the council to work as a team.

New York Common Pantry offers classroom-based support in nutrition education through a cooking and gardening curriculum. If you are interested in working with New York Common Pantry and are a District 7 school, contact Evelyn Vela at (917) 720-9711. Please let her know that you learned about this program through our newsletter.

For more information on starting or improving a wellness council, visit the DOE Office of School Wellness website. Interested in starting a garden curriculum? Contact Moria Byrne-Zaaloff, MPH, Program Coordinator for Creating Healthy Schools and Community Programs at Bronx Health REACH at (212) 633-0800 ext. 1287.

PS 333, IS 131 and PS 6 Awarded Bronx Wellness Champions Grants

PS333 was one of three Bronx schools awarded a Bronx Wellness Champion Grant.

Congratulations to PS 333-Longwood Academy of Discovery (in photo above), IS 131-The Albert Einstein School and PS 6-West Farms School on becoming this year’s Bronx Wellness Champions. This year Bronx Health REACH offered mini-grants to help schools make their nutrition and fitness projects possible. Through this grant, PS 333-Longwood Academy of Discovery launched a school-wide healthy snack initiative at their annual field day.  Students enjoyed whole grain granola bars, fruit and fresh water after a soccer game with their newly acquired soccer balls and pop-up soccer goals purchased with funding from the grant.

With their grant, IS 131-the Albert Einstein School built a green wall replete with basil, cilantro, spearmint and mixed greens in their vacant courtyard to increase healthy eating on campus. PS 6-West Farms School plans to use their grant to purchase portable gym equipment that can be used inside or outside the school to increase physical activity by 60 minutes a week. PS 6-West Farms School will receive their equipment this fall. As part of the grant requirements, the three schools completed a WELLSAT pre-assessment, a NYC Department of Education scorecard and created a wellness policy.

Unionport School-PS36 and Saba Deli Unveil Don't Stress, Eat Fresh Campaign

Students from Unionport School-PS36 gave out samples of their Fruit Fix fruit cup.
Unionport School-PS36 students and Saba Quality Plus Deli unveiled their Don't Stress, Eat Fresh healthy bodega marketing campaign on Tuesday, June 12. Students offered free fruit salad samples to Saba Quality Plus Deli customers and promoted Saba by featuring the fruit salad during morning announcements, classroom and cafeteria presentations and by distributing fliers. Bronx Health REACH provided Saba Quality Plus Deli with training and technical support on how to better promote the fruit salad.

"The fruit cup has grapes, strawberries and mangos. We are encouraging people to eat healthier this summer by purchasing the fruit cup instead of Takis and to drink water instead of Coke," said Christian, a student involved with the program. Ms. Judith Siegel, a teacher leading the class remarked, "After visiting some of the local bodegas we learned there were not a lot of healthy choices for the students, so we decided to create the Fruit Fix fruit cup and Saba generously agreed to sell it during the summer for $2."

This is part of a borough wide initiative launched by the Institute for Family Health's Bronx Health REACH, the Bodega Association and the Bronx Bodega Workgroup to encourage Bronx residents to purchase healthier foods and beverages at 56 participating bodegas in the Bronx.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Why the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh School Curriculum Matters

On June 12th PS36-Unionport School and Saba Quality Plus Deli & Grocery unveiled the Don't Stress, Eat Fresh Campaign at Saba Quality Plus Deli & Grocery.

This post was written by Elecia Faauiaso, an intern with the Bronx Health REACH Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program who worked on the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh Curriculum as her Masters Practicum in Public Health at New York University. Elecia also served as an instructor last fall on a counter-marketing study with CS448-Soundview Academy of Culture and Scholarship. She will be graduating with a dual Master's degree in Public Health and Dietetics this fall.

As the project coordinator and intern for Bronx Health REACH’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program working on the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh curriculum, I was proud to see this campaign launch at PS 294-Walton Avenue School, PS36-Unionport School, and PS443-The Family School in June. The Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh healthy bodega marketing campaign is a borough wide bodega marketing campaign launched last November by the Institute for Family Health's Bronx Health REACH, the Bodega Association and the Bronx Bodega Partners Workgroup to encourage Bronx residents to purchase healthier foods and beverages at 56 participating Bronx bodegas. During the past two weeks students from PS 294-Walton Avenue School, PS36-Unionport School, and PS443-The Family School in partnership with M&H Deli Grocery, Saba Quality Plus Deli & Grocery and La Solucion distributed samples of healthy foods sold in the bodegas and posted signage hightlighting the healthy food.

At the three Bronx schools, I provided on-going technical assistance to the teachers with the support of Moria Byrne-Zaaloff, Program Coordinator for the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program. I trained the teachers in the 8 week Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh curriculum, which focuses on: healthy eating, processed foods, food marketing and marketing campaign development. Over the 8 week course students learned about the barriers to healthy foods in their neighborhood and the various techniques marketers use to influence their food choices. The most eye-opening activity to me was when students learned how to read nutrition labels.

A PS36-Unionport parent enjoyed the fruit salad samples distributed by students from the school.

Students brought in their favorite snacks from their local bodega and were shocked to learn how unhealthy many snacks were once they understood the high sugar and salt content of each. One student expressed concern about the harmful effects of consuming an entire package of Takis on a daily basis. She said, “When I eat a bag by myself, I'm actually eating for 3 to 4 people. That’s a lot of calories for me!” After she shared this with me I found that through education and by providing young students with the necessary tools and skills to navigate their way through our complex food system gives them the power to be health conscious consumers.

Each school took a survey of their partner bodega to determine what healthy options were available in their neighborhood bodega and to think critically about how product placement, accessibility, convenience and price all affects the food choices they make every day. Angela Boyle, a FoodCorps member with PS443-The Family School, told me that her students felt “important and professional” doing the bodega surveys, and assessing their neighborhood bodegas “gave them power.” I found it inspiring to see the students take action to change their own food environment. I believe where they eat, sleep, learn, play, and shop should support their choices in living a healthy lifestyle.

The bodega owners showed a lot of enthusiasm and were eager to participate in the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh campaign. Carlos, a bodega worker at La Solucion shared, “I would much rather see students purchasing healthy smoothies and juices. It is important for them to learn healthy eating habits when they are young, so they do not get sick when they are older.” Students and teachers from PS443-The Family School hope to drive more customers seeking smoothies to La Solucion by posting the colorful posters and coordinating healthy food demos.

Why do we need to focus on these matters? We have so much working against us. The battle between the cheap and easy availability of processed foods versus the shortage of healthy foods in local bodegas; the misleading health claims and puzzling nutrition labels; packaged and canned goods that have colorful cartoon characters and celebrities on their labels. A lot of this subconsciously tricks and confuses the minds of the youth, and even adults as well, to make unhealthy choices. So what do we do to combat the manipulation and barriers? Engaging students in countering unhealthy marketing, reading food labels, and asking their local stores to sell healthy foods will certainly go a long way.

If you live near La Solucion (180 McCellan Street), MH Deli Grocery (1405 Walton Avenue) or Saba Quality Plus Deli & Grocery (1183 Castle Hill Avenue), go in and buy the fruit salad or smoothies promoted by the students.


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