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
By 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
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.