Childhood obesity prevention project shows early success
Local initiative connects elementary school students with freshly grown foods
Louisville, Ky. (February 23, 2015) – A program intended to help curb childhood obesity and foster healthy habits in Louisville’s underserved youth has seen positive results since its launch in October 2013. The Farm to Family Initiative, a collaboration between healthcare providers at Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, and the Food Literacy Project aims to influence long-term health and food literacy for students at Hazelwood and Wellington elementary schools.
Lead partners reported on the progress of this effort at a community meeting on February 23, 2015 highlighting results of the last 15 months. Students participating in the initiative have made significant gains in knowledge and implemented healthy behaviors during this time. Results of the program include:
- 41 percent of students now eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily (increased from 23 percent)
- 91 percent of students engage in at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity (increased from 63 percent)
- 90 percent of students have eaten a vegetable they harvested or picked themselves (increased from 59 percent)
- 93 percent of students know how to prepare a healthy recipe (increased from 63 percent)
More than 90 percent of the students at Hazelwood and Wellington elementary schools qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program. The schools are located in areas classified by the USDA as “food deserts” where residents face limited access to stores providing fresh vegetables and fruits.
“These early results show startling success for the young people engaged in this program—we’re making a real impact on their health,” said Alice Bridges, vice president of Healthy Communities, KentuckyOne Health. “It’s our hope that these successes will translate into long-term healthy habits for participants, ultimately creating a healthier community.”
The project is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Johnson & Johnson Community Health Care Program for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity to the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, a part of KentuckyOne Health. The project’s goal is to promote healthy lifestyles for the prevention of childhood obesity among children aged 8-12 years at Hazelwood and Wellington Elementary schools, where more than 35 percent of the student populations are overweight or obese.
The Food Literacy Project promotes healthy lifestyles through farm-based experiential education, after-school clubs, family engagement, and food access programs. This project directly connects underserved youth and families with fresh foods, the people who grow it, the land, and each other in cooperation with healthcare providers at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital.
“Youth and families are discovering the joy and power of real foods by engaging in positive experiences with fresh vegetables- planting, cultivating, harvesting, cooking, and eating them,” said Angelique Perez, MPH, assistant director of the Food Literacy Project, who serves as the project director for this program. “Through these direct experiences, children and their families are empowering themselves with skills to make a lifetime of healthy choices.”
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations including, hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved. The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages.
About the Food Literacy Project
The Food Literacy Project inspires a new generation to build healthy relationships with food, farming, and the land through hands-on, inquiry-based programs, including planting, harvesting, and cooking fresh vegetables, As the Louisville area’s only farm-based education program, the organization has unleashed the joy of discovering real food for more than 25,000 youth and families since 2006. More info can be found at www.foodliteracyproject.org or (502) 491-0072.