School Breakfast & Lunch:
According to local data by the University of Rochester, 38% of Rochester children are obese or overweight. Unfortunately, poverty rates seem to be closely related to the percentage of obesity in our area. In the Rochester City School District, 84% of students qualify for free and reduced school breakfast and lunches. Healthi Kids works with the District to ensure that the meals being served are healthy, nutritious, and tasty through observations and advocacy. These observations are completed by District parents and are key to ensuring the meals are of high quality and appealing to students. Our work together has led to improvements in the school lunch menu, the pilot of water stations and salad bars in lunchrooms and to professional development training for all food service staff and lunch aides.
Summer Meals Program:
Healthy eating and hunger never take a break - especially not during the summer, when students who qualify for free and reduced school meals need them the most. The USDA Summer Food Service Program provides children ages 2-18 with nutritious meals Monday through Friday from June until August. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of eligible children participate.
The Summer Meals Planning group, made up of Healthi Kids and key partners like the City of Rochester, the Rochester City School District, Foodlink, and the Rochester Area Community Foundation, is changing the face of summer meals. By working together to ensure program capacity to meet the needs of children and families and building awareness in the community about this fantastic program, the group hopes to increase participation in summer meals by 20% each year until 2016.
Rochester, like many cities, has a high concentration of corner stores and bodegas. Unfortunately, the offerings at these stores tend to be cheap, nutritionally-empty foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. With locations near schools, recreation centers, and parks, a lot of clientele are children. Healthi Kids works with local corner store owners to ensure that healthier options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, have a place on their shelves and are an affordable choice for customers.
Breastfeeding is one of the earliest interventions to prevent unhealthy weight in their children. According to an August 2011 article in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics,
Because of the strong health benefits, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and then continuing breastfeeding with supplemental foods until the age of one.
"Breast milk provides your baby with food that is easy to digest and very nutritious, and your child helps decide how much to eat and when to eat it. Both the breast milk itself and the way your baby feeds helps him or her develop healthy eating patterns. Breastfed babies seem to be better able to regulate their food intake and thus are at a lower risk for obesity."
Megan A. Moreno, MD, MSEd, Fred Furtner, Fredrick P. Rivara, MD, MPH; Breastfeeding as Obesity Prevention.