Nutrition

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At Native American Health Center, the Prescription Is Vegetables

Fresh Approach staffers chop a variety of fruits and vegetables for today’s summer salad. “We tried to choose one of every color,” says Laura deTar, Nutrition Program Manager for Fresh Approach. “We want to expose people to things they may not have had.” (Brittany Patterson, KQED)

Fresh Approach staffers chop a variety of fruits and vegetables for today’s summer salad. “We tried to choose one of every color,” says Laura deTar, Nutrition Program Manager for Fresh Approach. “We want to expose people to things they may not have had.” (Brittany Patterson, KQED)

By Brittany Patterson

In Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, 20 people sit inside a colorful classroom at the Native American Health Center. They listen attentively as Leah Ricci gives a lecture on the merits of fiber and where to get it. As far as lectures on fiber are concerned, this one is pretty rousing.

“I didn’t like vegetables and fruit, but now we’re all eating more of them.”

“Can anyone name some foods that are high in fiber?” she asks.

Immediately the participants begin to throw out suggestions.

“Beans. Apples. Greens. Seeds.”

“What do all of these foods have in common?” Ricci asks.

“They all come from plants,” shouts out Paula Marie Parker.

Parker and the others are all students in a program at the Native American Health Center called VeggieRx, which teaches participants about nutrition and the merits of incorporating more fruits and vegetables and physical activity in their lives and the lives of their families. Continue reading

New Food Labels to Focus on Calories, Sugar

Many processed foods, including bottled tomato sauce, have added sugars, which would be required under the proposed label. (Danny Nicholson/Flickr)

Many processed foods, including bottled tomato sauce, have added sugars, which would be required under the proposed label. (Danny Nicholson/Flickr)

By Allison Aubrey, NPR

Ready for a reality check about how many calories you’re eating or drinking?

The proposed new nutrition facts panel may help.

“I’ve been hoping for years that the FDA would list added sugars,” — Marion Nestle, NYU Nutrition Professor 

The Obama administration Thursday released its proposed tweaks to the iconic black and white panel that we’re all accustomed to seeing on food packages.

The most visible change is that calorie counts are bigger and bolder — to give them greater emphasis.

In addition, serving sizes start to reflect the way most of us really eat. Take, for example, ice cream. The current serving size is a half-cup. But who eats that little?

Under the proposed new label, the serving size would become 1 cup. So, when you scoop a bowl of mint chocolate chip, the calorie count that you see on the label will probably be much closer to what you’re actually eating.

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Foster Kids Learn About Nutrition, Get Job Training in Oakland Program

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Former foster youth, Kawanzza Byrd, is gaining culinary skills and tips on healthy eating through a youth program called GROW Oakland. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)

Editor’s Note: Project GROW Oakland trains young people to become chefs — to build job skills and healthy eating habits. Some youth are on probation; while others are — or were — in the foster care system. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” 19-year-old Kawanzza Byrd, a former foster youth, says the program has changed the way she eats. 

By: Kawanzza Byrd

When you’re in foster care, you really have no control over what you eat. With my partner when she was in foster care, they ate a lot of fast food. Every night. The foster mom, she didn’t cook: She just bought pizza. She bought hot pockets. Continue reading

Seniors Help Kids CATCH Healthy Habits in San Diego

By Marnette Federis

During the physical activity component of CATCH Healthy Habits, kids play active games for 30 minutes. (Photo: Marnette Federis)

During the physical activity component of CATCH Healthy Habits, kids play active games for 30 minutes. (Photo: Marnette Federis)

A novel after-school program in the San Diego area is bringing together older and younger generations and helping encourage healthy lifestyles.

The program, called Coordinated Approach To Child Health, or CATCH Healthy Habits, trains and places senior volunteers in after-school programs and youth clubs where they teach kids about health.

CATCH is run by San Diego OASIS, an older adult educational center that encourages productive living for adults 50 years of age or older.

Many volunteers are retired teachers and nurses who said they were looking to give back to the community and be active even though they are no longer in the workforce.

Lala Bence, 69, worked as a pre-school teacher for 25 years. “I love children, I retired [from teaching] for a year and I couldn’t do without it,” said Bence, who now works with CATCH in San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood. Continue reading

Sometimes When School Is Out, So Is The Food

Kids line up for a free summer meal through a Chico Unified School District program. (Photo: Patrice Chamberlain)

To understand some of the powerful hunger issues in our state, go no further than the Silicon Valley YMCA.

The Y runs summer youth programs in Gilroy. Vice president of programming and community development Mary Hoshiko Haughey says last summer they had a boy in the middle school group who wasn’t eating his lunch.

“This was the first day of the program, and our staff asked ‘Why aren’t you eating?’ ‘What would you like?’” Haughey recalled. “And he said, ‘I can’t eat because I need to make sure my brother and sister are eating. Do they have food in their program too? Otherwise I have to save it for them.’ And finally we put him on the phone with them at another site and they said ‘yes, we’re eating,’ so he finally did too.”

Haughey paused. “It’s an example of the adult issues that our young children are taking on. He wasn’t going to eat unless he knew his siblings would.”

It’s also an example of the importance of the summer meal programs that are offered throughout the state. Some school-based programs directly continue the work of the School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program that serves free and reduced meals to low income students throughout the year. Others are sponsored by food banks or summer youth program sites.

The Silicon Valley Y is part of the California Summer Meal Coalition, which is working to increase awareness of the USDA summer nutrition programs offered through the California Department of Education.

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