October 21, 2011

If you’ve seen Food Inc., no doubt you’ll recognize this no-B.S. farmer. I left the theater wanting to hear more from him. And now I can:


Child Nutrition Act an improvement but to make real change, we need to offer real food.

December 8, 2010

“The new nutrition standards would be written by the Agriculture Department, which would decide which kinds of foods may be sold and what ingredients can be used on school lunch lines and in vending machines. The new standards would likely keep popular foods like hamburgers and pizza in school cafeterias but make them healthier, using leaner meat or whole wheat crust, for example. Vending machines could be stocked with less candy and fewer high-calorie drinks.”

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/12/02/2492852/congress-sends-child-nutrition.html#ixzz17Wwg4p1C


A few questions:

Why are school menus determined by the Agriculture Department? Is that a conflict of interest?

Where is the nutrition education (and taste education) that will help kids prefer healthy whole foods over the fast-food menu items offered on most school menus?

Let’s make whole grains, fruits and vegetables — in their whole state, not in a whole-grain corn dog coating — accessible and appealing so kids prefer them over junk food.



Announcing Food Is Elementary Training in Kansas City!!

July 8, 2010

Experts agree healthy kids learn better. That’s why next month, Bistro Kids is sponsoring a Food Educator training with Dr. Antonia Demas, creator of the Food is Elementary curriculum. In this informative and inspiring two-day training, participants will learn how to implement the award-winning curriculum, which provides a framework for improving students’ health by teaching them about food, nutrition and cooking through dynamic multi-cultural lessons that fully engage their senses. Here are the details. Seating is limited so don’t wait!

August 11-12, 2010
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
Crossroads Church, 7917 Main St, KCMO 64114
Registration Fee: $165 (Includes a copy of Food is Elementary by Antonia Demas)
College and Continuing Education credit information available at training
Lunch Provided On Thursday Only

To register, send this form with your payment to the address on the form: Food Educator Training Registration Form

How is Food is Elementary different from other nutrition education programs?

Food is Elementary does more than teach children about healthy eating – it improves their eating behaviors. Students learn basic food preparation and cooking skills in a way that engages their natural curiosity. It empowers them to make good food choices by providing accurate information about the link between food and disease prevention.

Food is Elementary is accessible and inclusive. Recipes use healthy commodity foods such as beans and whole grains, which are inexpensive for families and school nutrition providers. The program is designed to involve families and community partners through classroom teaching, school meals, community dinners, gardens, and collaborative mural projects. Respect, tolerance, compassion and other values are reinforced in each lesson.

Food is Elementary has demonstrated remarkable success in improving the physical and mental health of children. Documented results from research-based studies include:

  • The development of preference for fruits, vegetables and whole foods over processed foods
  • Reduced Body Mass Index and improved general health within weeks of educational intervention
  • A welcomed introduction of plant-based entrees into school lunch programs
  • Parents choosing healthier foods due to the influence of their children
  • Dramatic improvement in the behavior, mind set and academic performance of troubled teens

Food is Elementary is being taught in 2,000 across the country. Here are some real-life stories:

School Food Reform, One No-Bake Tart at a Time, The Atlantic, June 24, 2010

Food For Life Engages Senses in Baltimore Students, Baltimore Volunteerism Examiner, June 2, 2010

Teaching Young Students to Enjoy Nutritious School Meals, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 8, 2010

Food Education in Action, T. Colin Campbell Foundation Interviews on Plant-based Nutrition

Notes from the Field: Food Is Elementary, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Pubic Health, Johns Hopkins University

The Lunchroom Chronicles: Can an irrepressible new Orleans chef put the food back into Baltimore school lunch? Urbanite Magazine, November 1, 2008

Support KC Urban Ag Code Changes This Wednesday!

May 10, 2010

Troostwood Youth Garden

This Wednesday, Kansas City’s Planning and Zoning Committee will have a hearing on proposed urban ag code changes. At the last meeting, the committee finally began to wrestle with the specifics of the ordinance, so we are hopeful that we have a chance at getting them to vote on an ordinance that makes sense and is workable.

City Ordinances Can Help Increase Access to Healthy, Locally Grown Foods

Did you know…?

  • In Jackson County, nearly 37,000 low-income people don’t have a car and live more than a mile from the nearest full service grocery store.
  • In bi-state KC, 63% of adults are overweight or obese.
  • In the states of KS and MO, 31% of kids are overweight and obese.
  • In 43 low-income schools in KCK and KCMO, 34% of kindergarteners are overweight or obese.  By fifth grade, that number jumps to 41%.
  • According to the Missouri Hunger Atlas, 16% of kids in Jackson County are food insecure, 28% are eligible for food stamps, and 47% are eligible free and reduced lunches.

There are too many neighborhoods in Kansas City where:

  • Liquor stores and fast food joints are easier to find than a fresh carrot, head of lettuce, or home-grown tomato.
  • The people who suffer disproportionately from diabetes, hypertension, and other diet-related diseases can’t easily follow the doctor’s orders to “eat more fruits and vegetables.”

In communities like these, the city ordinance that we have proposed which would allow a home gardener or someone running a garden micro-enterprise to sell fresh-grown  produce to their neighbors could be an effective strategy to help people get access to healthy food.

If you think that Kansas City, MO needs to support this small step to increasing access to healthy foods, please:

1.  Show up at the Planning & Zoning Committee Hearing on Wednesday, 1:30pm, at City Hall, 414. E 12th Street.  The hearing will be either on the 10th floor in City Council Chambers, or on the 26th floor, in the Hearing Room.  (Stop in at the info desk in the lobby to ask.)

2.  Email city_council@kcmo.org and tell them that you want them to support the ordinance because our city needs to support neighborhood-based access to healthy foods!

Kansas City needs to support healthy, lively communities where residents can grow food and feed their neighbors!

Sparkling Blueberry Soda

May 10, 2010

I brought the ingredients for this healthy soda to a recent SHNAK meeting. The student LOVED it! They said it was the best soda they’ve ever had. They said they would want their moms to make it for their birthday parties. Then one said “It’s good because you can’t taste the blueberries!”  Oh well, two-outta-three, right?!?

This blueberry soda doesn’t just taste great, it helps kids learn to enjoy the real flavors of fruit. It’s also easy enough for very young children to make. You can vary the amounts depending on the size of your cup or pitcher. In smaller cups, the blueberries can replace ice, in bigger cups or pitchers, add ice before adding the other ingredients.

Frozen blueberries
Cranberry juice made with 100% juice
Sparkling water

1. Put blueberries in bottom of cup or pitcher.
2. Fill cup or pitcher half full with cranberry juice
3. Top off with sparkling water.

You can find more healthy tips in this guide I created for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and KC Healthy Kids: “Healthy Alternatives to School Celebrations, Rewards, Fundraisers and Snacks.”

SHNAC (not SNAC) Gives Kids a Voice in School Health

March 24, 2010

At the first meeting of our school’s Student Health and Nutrition Advisory Council (SHNAC!), the group elected officers, established norms and set goals in just a half hour. Yesterday I was honored to join the group, and I was amazed at their awareness and interest in making their school healthier. Here are some highlights:

  • Until recently, students picked up their lunch trays in the cafeteria and brought them back to their classrooms. Our principal estimated this took about 15 minutes out of each day, so in the meeting, we ran the numbers to find that over the entire school year, students were spending the equivalent of about 7.5 days waiting in the cafeteria line! Think of all the learning they missed out on!
  • They said they wanted bottled water as a beverage choice for lunch, and we discussed dispensers to avoid generating waste.
  • Someone suggested a build-your-own breakfast bar with oatmeal, cream of wheat, fruit, yogurt, granola and other healthy items. They thought a fruit and salad bar for lunch would also be great.
  • One student mentioned that we need to consider the cost of such changes because ‘healthy stuff is more expensive.” Another concurred, “Yeah, like at McDonalds, have you noticed a burger is $2 and a salad is $5, and the yogurt parfait is made with canned fruit!”
  • I asked them how they knew something was healthy or not. They said knew colorful fruits and vegetables where healthier and they were also familiar with the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid.
  • We discussed whether the Chicken Taco was healthier than the Chicken Patty on Bun. One student thought the sandwich would be a better choice if the taco shell is fried. We thought about what kinds of foods we usually eat with tacos (they named lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa), and Chicken Patty on Bun (ketchup, mustard, pickles).
  • During the taco vs. sandwich discussion, one student said there’s no way we can see the vitamins inside the food, so how do we really know? I asked them if they knew what a whole food was. We talked about nature vs the factory. One student said he used whole foods to make risotto in the after school cooking club led by a parent/chef.
  • For several years now, our school has hosted a weekend organic farmers market. This year, for the first time, our students will run a booth there, selling craft and food items they have made.

News Flash: Kids Like Broccoli!

March 24, 2010

A mom at our school sent me this note earlier this month:

Hey there~

I thought you would enjoy this story.  The other day when H. and I were talking about the different parts of his day, we discussed lunch.  He was a little upset.  Why?  He had eaten all of his steamed broccoli and none of the other kids wanted to share theirs!  Everyone was gobbling the broccoli.  He said, “Ms. K. makes really good broccoli!  Perfectly crunchy.”

I felt so lucky to have Ms. K. in our lives.  What a testament to preparing veggies properly.  I think there are many of us who lost years of veggie consumption after being turned off by overcooked mushy green stuff camouflaged with “cheese” sauce!  Also goes to show kids will eat vegetables without bribery or having to hide them in other foods.