Children’s Aid Society <br> GoHealthy! Food Education Program
The New York-based Children’s Aid Society shares the nation’s concern about the alarming numbers of overweight and obese children and the equally distressing increases in diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels and other serious conditions in America’s youth. In response, they have launched a number of innovative initiatives under their Go!Healthy program − a food education program that makes healthy foods fun and accessible for young people and families throughout New York City. The Go!Healthy program includes the following initiatives:
Go!Chefs is Children’s Aid’s 12-week, hands-on cooking and health education program for young people ages 2-21. This initiative introduces youth to the pleasures of preparing and enjoying “real food” – food that is both nutritious and delicious and that pleases the body as well as the palate. Participants learn basic culinary techniques, how to make healthy food choices and how to become “conscious consumers” in a marketplace that spends millions to persuade children to eat high-calorie, low-nutrient products.
Go!Chefs also includes cooking and nutrition curricula for parents in English and Spanish. Together, these programs seek to create a community of youth and adult advocates who will help turn a tide of unhealthy eating in low-income neighborhoods into a movement that celebrates delicious and nutritious foods.
Go!Menus is Children’s Aid’s foodservice program that feeds delicious foods to 2,000 children ages 2-21 each day. Many of these children struggle with food insecurity in their homes. Our original recipes, made entirely from scratch and completely based on whole and healthy foods, are not only an opportunity to feed hungry bellies but to broaden children’s food horizons.
Go!Kids: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention
In 2003, Children’s Aid launched its Go!Kids early childhood obesity prevention program, which is now being taught to 3-5-year-olds at six Children’s Aid Society Head Start sites in Manhattan and the Bronx. In addition, Go!Kids will be implemented at four additional Children’s Aid locations during the coming school year, as well as at eight external Head Start programs.
Go!Kids is an age-appropriate curriculum that teaches preschool children the differences between healthful and junk foods (“go” and “slow” foods), explores body awareness and general health and uses yoga and other exercises to help children reduce stress and improve fitness. Parents receive lesson-related materials so that they can implement the changes in diet and lifestyle intended to help prevent their children from becoming obese. More information about Go!Kids is available, here.
Youthmarkets: Greenmarkets Created by School-Age Children
In 2007, students in an after-school cooking and nutrition program at P.S./I.S.50 in East Harlem launched a Youthmarket at their school (view their photo gallery!). Following in their footsteps, Bronx students started a Youthmarket at Fannie Lou Hamer High School (view their photo gallery!) in the summer of 2008. A Youthmarket is a greenmarket created and run by students in their very own schools; Children’s Aid operates them in close partnership with the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC). The Youthmarkets address the acute lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income communities by bringing the produce into the hearts of the neighborhoods and teaches children a great deal about where their food comes from and how.
The Youthmarkets in East Harlem and the Bronx have brought beautiful, fresh, healthful produce to parts of the city that rarely share this delightful experience and offered tastes of delicious seasonal foods made with the produce as well as simple recipes. The popularity of the Youthmarkets with parents, community members, staff and students can be judged by how fast the produce sells out!
Teens Cater with Good Food
Teens at Children’s Aid’s new Next Generation Center in the Bronx are participating in nutrition and cooking classes and have begun a catering company that produces delicious and healthful foods for Children’s Aid events and those outside the organization. This entrepreneurial venture is teaching youth in a neighborhood with little access to fresh and healthful foods how to cook with the highest quality ingredients.
To learn more about the Go!Healthy program and find inspiration to create similar programs in your community, visit the Children’s Aid Society’s Go!Healthy website.