Friday, April 30, 2010

Kids Teaching Parents

by Jillayne Samatas

As we have begun to start our parent outreach program this past year we have heard many interesting things from the parents that our students are learning and taking home. It’s wonderful! In our classes, we are always striving to teach the children basic cooking skills such as how to hold a knife, mincing and dicing to name a few. Not only are they learning these skills, but are learning how to work with others.

In the past before we started parent outreach we never really knew what our students were bringing home. We hoped they were sharing the recipes and information we shared with them to their parents, but we really had no idea. In fall 2009, we began parent meetings at each site which truly opened our eyes to the fantastic things the children are telling their parents. Parents were sharing with us that their children were teaching them skills in the kitchen and being disappointed in them when they ate McDonalds. It just goes to show the voice and power these children can have on their families and communities which can affect behavior and really make change. We can teach, teach, teach the children, but it is the parents buying the groceries and making decisions at home, therefore educating the adults can reinforce what we are teaching in our classes and make healthier communities.

Just this morning, I saw a commercial (actually several) that showed various snack items and cereals that were pretty unhealthy. For example, Apple Jacks had these two characters, a cinnamon stick and an apple that were animated; talking to each other, laughing, having fun. I could see how this could draw kids in and make them want to tell their mom or dad that they wanted that cereal with the talking characters. The truth of the matter is that Apple Jacks, while tasty, is full of sugar (not a lot of cinnamon) and I don’t think there are any apples in it. It just tastes like apple because of artificial flavoring.

Again, I strongly believe in moderation and every once in a while having a treat that you truly enjoy that might not be so good for you, however, we are teaching our children at a young age about so many of those unhealthy snacks and are using media to do that. The parents possibly get so tired of hearing it or may not have the nutritional knowledge themselves so they will purchase the item.

We need to go back to the basics to educate our parents, students, families and communities the basics of eating well. It doesn’t need to be the molecular components of food, but more so
portioning and understanding the benefits of why certain foods are good for you. Common Threads is beginning to do this and our goal is to continue this to build healthier communities that are making nutritious decisions.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Importance of the Paper Towel

By Kurt Lewis

“The importance of the paper towel,” my dad would say, “is threefold. First, I use the paper towel to dry the apple after I have washed it. Second, I wrap the apple in the paper towel to protect it in your lunch bag. And third, you may then use the paper towel as a napkin during your meal. Threefold.”

My dad would go through this speech with me every morning as he packed my lunch, and it never got old to me. He worked a lot when I was a kid, and early morning before he left for work was often the most time I would get to spend with him in a day. I would sit and eat my breakfast while he strolled around the kitchen packing my lunch. He would make my sandwich, bag up some pretzels and always make sure that I got my apple and my paper towel.

Mornings like that will always be special to me. To this day, I wrap my apples (and pears, peaches, plums or whatever fruit I pack) in a paper towel, repeating that threefold mantra in my head. It’s a great way to start my day and a warm reminder of my dad’s love. To me, moments like this are what being a good parent is all about.

If you are a parent, or even if you are not, packing a lunch is a great way to be sure that the food you are eating is the best it can be. School lunches are often not nearly as nutritious as parents would like, and adults certainly don’t set a great example with the food that we grab for lunch. I have put some pretty awful things in my body simply because I only had a few minutes to run out and pick something up.

These days, I pack my lunch most of the time. It’s a guarantee that I have food at hand when I need it and a conscious effort to eat healthier. Now it’s me strolling around the kitchen, making a sandwich and extolling the virtues of the paper towel. It’s a time to clear my head before I head for the train and the workday that awaits. It feels great to take that time to take care of myself, not to mention that cutting out fast food has certainly improved my health.

I encourage you to give it a go for a week. Pack your lunch each day and see how you feel. If you have kids, get them involved. Give them choices in the morning that will pay off in the afternoon. Take the time to be present with them as you all get ready for your day.

And when you pack them an apple, don’t forget to wrap it in a paper towel.

Here's a quick article on healthier lunch choices you can make at home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We're Back!

Good Morning Everyone!

Beginning this week, Common Threads will be posting regular blog updates once again. We are excited to be able to share our work with you! CT staffers have so many amazing stories to share and we hope that you will stop in each week to see what we've been up to.

Please feel free to share any comments or questions. If there is something you would like to know more about, leave a comment and we'll get back to you.