LISTEN (1 Hour)
KGNU Station Manager Sam Fuqua talks about how to eat healthy, with Ashley Elementary Principal Ken Hulslander and Integrated Nutrition Education Outreach Coordinator Catia Chavez. Catia Chavez explains the outreach programs provided to children (ideally in 1-hour lessons once a week for roughly 8 weeks per semester), and outreach programs for parents, such as parent breakfasts and healthy recipes. Ashley Principal Ken Hulslander explains the benefits to academic performance and behavior when they have healthy meals and not sugar highs. He says that students who learn about healthy foods start to eat healthier foods, even in school. He says preparing healthy food together in a school helps to build community and reduces the Hot Cheeto consumption and adds to more openness to eating fruit, a banana, and even being open to trying something they have never tried before, such as celery.
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Len Houle: This morning station manager Sam Fuqua will moderate a discussion on how families can eat healthy. Let s join him now.
Sam Fuqua: Thanks, Len, and good morning, everybody. KGNU continuing our exploration of the connection between the classroom and the kitchen table, connecting healthy eating for kids at school with healthy eating at home. This is part of our Eat Your Radio series, and we re going to talk in some detail this morning about the most effective ways to enable healthier eating for kids and for their parents. Joining us for the conversation are Ken Hulslander, the principal at Ashley Elementary School in northeast Denver. Good morning, Ken, thanks for coming in. Ken Hulslander: Good morning.
Sam: And Catia Chavez is here, evaluation and community outreach coordinator with the Integrated Nutrition Education Project, INEP, one of KGNU s partners in our Eat Your Radio project. Good morning, Catia. Catia Chavez: Good morning.
Sam: Nice to see you. Everybody knows generally that healthier eating is important. Why this focus right now, Catia?
Catia: It s important to focus on healthy eating because, like, many people now, right now, the problem of childhood obesity is growing in the U.S. and we want our kids to grow healthier. We also know that minorities and low-income families are more affected, and the purpose of the program is to try to get low-income elementary schools in Colorado, and that is why we are trying to focus on kids and parents.
Sam: Ken Hulslander, describe the population you educate at Ashley and the neighborhood.
Ken: We re about an 85% free and reduced lunch population, a mixed racial population.
Sam: Catia, what do you do when you do into a school like Ashley? What s the program? Give us the basic overview.
Catia: The basic overview is, we deliver a curriculum to the teachers so they can teach nutrition classes to their kids once a week from October to May during the school year. The kids have one hour of nutrition. We also teach nutrition classes to the parents, and all these classes are free for the parents and are once a week for two hours for four weeks.
Sam: What happens in those classes? 0:02:21.7
Catia: For the parents, we teach basic nutrition information, we help them we teach them about the pyramid that recently has changed, we teach them about what is the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, whole-wheat grains, low-fat milk, food safety, budgeting, how to find the best product for the best price in the stores. All those basic but important information that the parents need to know.
Sam: Ken, from the perspective of the administrator of this school, why is this important? This isn t reading, writing, or arithmetic.
Ken: It s important because first of all, kids who have eaten good food do better in school. They just can concentrate better. They re not on sugar highs. It s just generally a better situation for kids all the way around. It also we all know that what we eat affects our mood, so it can help kids that are struggling with emotional stuff. It helps on all levels.
Sam: Have you seen a difference with your students and their families since the INEP program has been at Ashley?
Ken: Actually, I ve seen a huge difference. When we first started this program, I thought, OK, it ll be nice, but I didn t expect anything major from it. But it was after it had been going first of all, you look in the classrooms, and any time you re preparing food together, we all know if we ve ever done that that it s a great opportunity to share, it s fun, it s something that really helps build community in the classroom. So from that standpoint it s good. But what I did notice is, in our school you could see kids eating hot Cheetos, that was the big thing, everywhere. Everybody had a bag of hot Cheetos in their hand. I’m always at the door with the assistant principal at the end of the day saying, goodbye to the kids, and they always had their bag of hot Cheetos on their way out the door. Now, when I see kids going out, they ve got fruit in their hands, an apple, a banana. It has changed the whole hot Cheeto situation in my school. Like, the change has been huge, to the point where you can see it without hardly looking. It s huge. The hot Cheetos have disappeared. 0:04:45.6
Sam: Catia, what are the results you spoke of earlier? How do we know this program is working. Ken has anecdotal evidence, kids are carrying apples instead of hot Cheetos. What do the studies show about the efficacy of this?
Catia: We do evaluations at the end of each year, and we have seen that kids overall are eating basically a quarter of a cup more of fruit and vegetables compared to control schools, schools that are not receiving INEP in the classroom. So that is actually a huge increase of consumption of fruits and vegetables. We ve also seen that, if I can read these facts, 91% of children are more aware of nutrition in general, 93% are more knowledgeable about nutrition, 86% of children are more willing to try new food and new fruits and vegetables. I think that is actually a big impact in the kids.
Sam: Is that compared to schools that do not have a nutrition education program?
Catia: Exactly. This is compared with schools that don’t have INEP in their classrooms. And something to consider, too, these lessons are actually linked to science and literacy standards in the curriculum with the schools. So we actually reinforce these standards in the classroom. Also, the kids are actually helping the teacher prepare the snacks and the lessons, so they learn how to cook, they learn how to go home and also cook with their parents, too, in the house.
Sam: Give us a little more detail on that. What does a typical lesson look like?
Catia: We have many lessons. For example, one lesson is parts of the plants. They learn the parts of the plants and they learn that they can use that some vegetables are roots and they can eat the roots. They can learn how to eat some spinach, the leafy greens. We teach them about and then that is combined with all these literacy standards. We have books, and these books are actually tied to this curriculum, so they first read a book about a fruit or vegetable, and then they talk about the fruit or vegetable and it s tied to this lesson. We deliver food once a week through the DPS warehouse. We have a policy with DPS and Aurora and the other districts around the state. We deliver this food so that teachers have this food available for the kids, and the kids are also helping prepare the fruit and the vegetable in the classroom.
Sam: So that food is not part of the school lunch program?
Catia: It s not.
Sam: It s a classroom project?
Catia: Yes. This is all part of the program. We deliver this food once a week. And the books, too, because each lesson is tied to a book. 0:07:36.6
Sam: Ken Hulslander, what are some of the barriers that you ve seen to the kids eating healthier or their parents eating healthier in the Ashley community?
Ken: I think for us it s really just a lack of information. One thing that happened to me the second year I was at Ashley, I’m just finishing my ninth year, the second year in the fall I was in the second grade classroom and there was a group of kids huddled around a desk and they were doing an activity around school, something in one of the lessons, I think in literacy. I went over and kind of listened to the kids and they were going, I don’t know what it is, do you know what it is? I went over to see what it was they didn t know what it was, and it was a stalk of celery. They had not seen celery in a stalk and they didn t know what it was. So I think it s just lack of information, and that s one of the great things that this program does. It teaches kids all kinds of things, and it helps them understand that food doesn t come in a box. It has a connection to the earth, to animals, it s a bigger thing. And I think that s something especially kids living in the city today, you forget where food comes from and what it takes to get that food to you. So I think there s a bunch of areas that it really helps the kids get more information about food in general, and I think the knowledge part is the blockage. Money is certainly part of it, but people eat regardless, and it s just about making better choices and understanding that for the same money I can do this or I can do this. It really is information.
Sam: I know it s been well documented in some urban areas. I don’t know Ashley s neighborhood specifically, but in some urban areas, there s just no grocery store. There may be a convenience store that sells some prepackaged items, but Catia Chavez, do you work to overcome that access barrier for healthier foods? Is there anything the classroom program can do? 0:09:50.1
Catia: I can give you an example, Swansea Elementary, we work with Swansea, too, located at I-70 and York. They don’t have Safeway or King Soopers around. I asked one man a few months ago what is the closest store, and they go to a Wal-Mart in Commerce City. So I think that is a big problem right now, that low-income neighborhoods don’t have access to big grocery stores. Our program in particular is not doing something for accessibility of these kinds of stores, but there are many programs right now in Denver and in Colorado that are working to try to educate people in these small convenience stores so they can have more fruits and vegetables available.
Sam: Bringing that food into the stores that are in the neighborhood?
Catia: Exactly. We are educating the parents on ways for them to choose the best options in these convenience stores, we are doing that, and we are also telling them that some parents said, This whole wheat bread is more expensive, how can I do? There are ways to eat healthier and it s not that expensive. You can also by the store brands, you can get coupons, you also look for coupons and offers in the stores. So there is ways to eat healthier and not spend that much money. We are also encouraging the parents to participate in the community and participate in the farmers market if there is one around the neighborhood. There is right now a big movement for urban gardens. Swansea is starting now a garden, and I know many schools are doing right now gardens in the backyard of the school.
Sam: Ken, does Ashley have this issue of a lack of options in the neighborhood?
Ken: No. We re across the street from Stapleton, so there s a huge King Soopers down the street. That isn t the problem we have. The problem really is lack of information. What do I need to eat? And a really good example is, our cafeteria manager, Chad, who is extraordinary, wrote a grant last year to get a salad bar in our school. That would not have functioned three years ago. But because of this program, it is a huge success. All of the kids are in the salad bar eating stuff. They wouldn t have done that before. There s all kinds of things in that salad bar that they had never tried and they weren t going to try. But now, because of the weekly things we do in the classroom and just the information, they re trying things and finding out they like things. It s made a huge impact from that area. And again, it s the information, just understanding, because we re in an area where we have access to everything, but it s about making good choices. 0:11:42.0
Sam: If you just joined us, that s Ken Hulslander, the principal at Ashley Elementary School in northeast Denver, one of the schools that works with the Integrated Nutrition Education Project, INEP. INEP s evaluation and community outreach coordinator, Catia Chavez is also with us in the studio. It s listener-supported KGNU, 88.5 FM, 1390 AM. We ll open up the phones now at 303-442-4242. If you have a question or a comment about how we get kids more into healthy eating in the schools and at home, or maybe you re a parent who s struggling with this issue yourself, maybe have some tips or questions, we d be pleased to have you join the conversation. Catia Chavez, I wanted to come back to that statement you made a few minutes ago that it is possible to eat healthier on a very limited budget. I would like to know how to do that better. What do you teach the parents on that issue? Can you be more specific?
Catia: Yes. Like I mentioned before, with the bread, they can buy the brand from the store. They always have a brand from the store that is cheaper. We are also teaching them that if there is a fruit that is more expensive because of the season, they can buy frozen or canned, but always telling them to pay attention to the nutrition facts, because we know that fruit or canned vegetables can have a little bit more of salt or sugar. There is frozen vegetable, frozen fruit they can buy that is still a healthy option. They can buy also fruit and vegetables in a can. They can look for coupons. And they always, there is always specials in the stores, even when I go by for the nutrition classes I can find 100% fruit juice in specials, or two for $3, two for $4. So those small tips are important for the parents. They actually I tell them, Go to the store this week, next week come back and tell me a change or something you bought this week that was different. They always come back saying, Yes, I bought 100% whole wheat bread. It s better. It was a little bit more expensive, but it s worth it. It s for my family, an investment that I’m doing for my family.
Sam: What if you have a parent who has made unhealthy eating choices? When the kid comes home from school really invested in healthier eating, but Mom or Dad not so much, how do you get the parent to come along with the kid?
Catia: This is actually why we started this parent program, because the kids were going home with this new knowledge about healthy eating and fruits and vegetables, and the parents were like, OK, what do you want me to do? So we started educating these parents. This is something for the good of your family and your kids. You want your family and your kids to grow healthier. You don’t want them to be obese, to be overweight. We tell them that if kids are overweight or obese, they can have these cardiovascular disease in the future. We are telling them that this is a way to prevent diseases in the future and to prevent even cavities. Most of these families don’t have insurance, so we don’t want them to spend too much money going to the doctor. We don’t want them to spend money going to the dentist. 0:16:28.8 We also want them to be healthy kids and to go to school all the time and we also don’t want them to not go to school because they are sick. So we tell them about all these ways that they can do to prevent them to be sick.
Sam: Let s go to the phones. We have a couple callers. Hi, Lindsey, you re on the air. I think we have to say goodbye to Lindsey, the phone connection is not audible. Let s hear from Mark. Hi, Mark, you re on the air. Mark: Thank you very much. I’m wondering, is there a website where a person could pull up some recipes to feed his children who don’t necessarily like vegetables?
Sam: Recipes for kids who don’t like vegetables. Where can he go?
Catia: INEP has a website: INEP.ucdenver.edu. We have recipes for parents where we incorporate more vegetables to the recipes. If you have more questions, I can actually refer you to other websites, too, that we have. This is my phone number: 303-724-4461. If you call me, I can refer you to other websites, too. Mark: Thank you very much.
Sam: Give me one example of a common recipe you would share with a parent who wants their kid to eat more vegetables but needs to get them to enjoy them or sneak them into food they enjoy.
Catia: There is a quesadilla, actually, that has vegetables, it s not just cheese or meat. We know that kids love cheese, love quesadillas. That s recipe has cream cheese, small pieces of green pepper, red pepper, different colors, it s has peanuts, but cut into small pieces and mixed with cream cheese. It also has spices, a little bit of garlic and spices of your choice. You spread it on the tortilla and that is actually a good way for the kids to each more vegetables. It s a simple way but it works. We try it with the kids and they actually like it.
Sam: Try the quesadilla, Mark! We re at 303-442-4242. Ken Hulslander, does anything happen at the school with the whole family on this project? Schools are often the community center in the neighborhood, I have heard that s true for Ashley. Do you bring the whole family together for meals or educational opportunities?
Ken: We don’t really connect it to education, but because we have a large Hispanic population that understand food, we end up having potluck dinners, that sort of thing. We had an international day here a couple of months ago where we had food from about eight or nine different countries come in. Some of that was prepared by the parents and some by ethnic restaurants around the school. So we do those kind of things, but we don’t really bring people together at this point around a nutrition lesson. It s something we certainly would be open to doing. 0:20:06.7
Sam: Where would you say DPS is on this? Is the school lunch program supportive? You talked about the grant that got the salad bar.
Ken: Our school lunch program is supported, but DPS is so big that I would really be a fool to make a blanket statement about DPS. Ashley Elementary is definitely open to it. Chad, our cafeteria manager, is open to it. DPS, I’m sure that they are certainly open to the idea, but what it looks like in other schools I couldn’t tell you.
Sam: What about the other schools you work in, Catia Chavez?
Catia: We do have a great partnership with DPS. They are really doing a great job right now. They are actually doing a salad bar in all of the DPS schools starting this year, it started actually in 2010. In some schools, they re starting to do the scratch cooking, preparing everything from scratch, from bread, everything from scratch. DPS is really one of the schools that are really invested in the lunchroom.
Sam: By scratch cooking, you mean that DPS food services are making more things from scratch?
Catia: Yes. Some schools started doing it last year, and they are trying to implement this in more DPS schools in the future.
Ken: And that is happening at Ashley as well.
Sam: Let s take another call. This is Chuck. Hi, Chuck, you re on KGNU. Chuck: Hello. I was wondering about addressing the balances, like amino acids and getting a good education in how to especially if they re using plants, there s about 20 amino acids, the building blocks for proteins, and what kind of educational materials are you putting forward on that?
Sam: Catia Chavez, is there any work in that area? We re talking about fifth graders at Ashley.
Catia: Exactly. We are educating elementary school kids from K through fifth grade. It s basic nutritional information about fruit and vegetable consumption. So we don’t specifically talk about amino acids. But we talk about new fruits and vegetables that they can eat and try in the school. Chuck: It s more the balance of which foods you would consume and how much of them to get these important acids so you have the proper amount of protein to grow. It s very important for a growing child or somebody who s pregnant that they are receiving the proper amounts of a balanced diet.
Catia: For the parents, we do teach them about the proper balance in their diet. We actually follow the My Pyramid guidelines, and like I mentioned before, that changed from last week. Now it s call
Sam: It s a plate, not a pyramid.
Catia: Exactly, so we follow those guidelines. Chuck: The other day they were comparing the different cultural graphics that they employ, I believe, in Italy wine is included and olive oil, etc. in their graphics for the pyramid. That s somewhat culturally based. Thank you very much. 0:23:31.1
Sam: Thanks, Chuck. And Chuck s point there, I think, is just to promote a balanced diet, with protein as well as these amino acids.
Catia: Exactly. And we do teach the parents about the balanced diet with My Pyramid, because this is funded through a federal grant, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program education.
Sam: That s Department of Agriculture funding?
Sam: We re at 303-442-4242, if you d like to join our conversation. Catia Chavez is here from INEP, the Integrated Nutrition Education Project, and Kens Hulslander, who is the principal at Ashley Elementary in northeast Denver. Ashley is one of the schools that works with INEP and also KGNU s Eat Your Radio project is part of that effort as well. Let me talk about that. We re tooting our own horn here for a second. How does the radio piece help enhance this nutrition education? Does it? What have you seen, Catia?
Catia: Right now, the KGNU project is working with fifth graders. This is part of another grant from the Colorado Heart Foundation. The parents and the kids are pretty excited about this program. They have been reporting on the nutrition classes, being advocates in the classrooms about the importance of these nutrition classes. They have been taking pictures of a session where they actually interviewed the parents and they interviewed me about the purpose of the classes. I think it s great, because the kids can also learn they can tie nutrition to being advocates and report this through the radio.
Sam: The kids who are being the radio reporters can become advocates for healthy eating?
Ken: They do, and it gives them a little bit of star status that they re running around with the microphone and the camera, so that s fun for them. It also gives them an experience they wouldn t normally get, something they could translate into a place like here. 0:25:36.7
Sam: Let s take another call. Hi, John, you re on the air. John: Good morning. Hey, what a great program! Thanks to your guests for their terrific work. I d just like to chip in a couple of notions that I ve heard in the past and see if they have any ideas about them. One is that I ve heard of people teaching kids about amigos, groups of foods that go together, protein-balanced, corn and beans is the famous combination, but also peanut butter and milk. The second thing that I ve heard about, which I d love to have some thoughts on, is this contest where as opposed to a normal cook-off, where neighborhood people enter their best recipes, there s a weighting for how much it costs. It s win on sheer taste, and then it s a win on the economy. People have no idea how economical dry beans are, and hard to cook, takes some tricks, takes some time. But the dual weighting makes it a more interesting contest and it seemed to be particularly well suited for high school students. I ll take a listen now. Thanks so much to KGNU and your guests. Bye!
Sam: Thanks, John. Catia Chavez, let me take John s second point first. Any kind of cooking contests through INEP that focus not only on taste but also on economy?
Catia: Yes, we actually through KGNU radio had a salad contest, Ashley and Centennial Elementary. We asked the children to go to their home and ask their parents an inexpensive healthy salad recipe. It has to have some superfood components, the superfood of the month that we re also marketing in the schools.
Sam: What is a superfood?
Catia: Like broccoli was the superfood of April, cabbage was in March. So the salad needed to have at least two or three superfood components and it needed to be inexpensive. And the winner, actually, was going to have the salad in the salad bar with the name of that person.
Sam: And probably that salad recipe is going to be on either the Eat Your Radio website or the INEP site?
Catia: Yes, I’m pretty sure that s going to be there soon. So we are actually telling the kids to also think about ways to have healthy recipes and inexpensive recipes.
Sam: Are you familiar with this idea John raised initially about food groupings?
Catia: Not about that one that he specifically was talking, amigos, but we do teach in fifth grade about My Pyramid, but in a more fun way, about these different groups of foods, grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy. So we do teach them, but it s more for fifth graders.
Sam: Let s take another call. Hi, Kate, you re on KGNU. 0:28:37.1 Kate: Hi, I actually go by Kay-Kay, but I said Kate because it s a little easier to say. I was interested that your guests mentioned the urban garden movement. I know a little bit more about that. There is a grow in the Swansea area called Growhaus, that gives classes. If you don’t have land of your own, it allows you to grow in their greenhouse. I wanted to make sure your listeners know about that and some of their classes. There s also a group called the Denver Urban Gardens that I think got started pretty close to Colorado Boulevard. They find plots of land in the city where you can garden if you don’t have land of your own but you could garden. And finally, there s a group called the Urban Gleaners that goes around and asks people if they have grapes growing in their yard that they re not eating or fruit trees, if they could harvest those things so other people can use those things. So I think there s a huge new movement here in urban gardens, and it s really pretty easy. We have some lettuce in our yard that we didn t even plant, we planted it last year and we have a huge crop this year, so I just wanted to urge people to be aware of what you can get right here in the city.
Sam: Thanks, Kate. We re at 303-442-4242. Catia Chavez, does INEP get at all into the gardening aspect of this? If so, how?
Catia: Yes. Denver ___ Garden is actually one of our partners, and they had a curriculum and they were I think fifth graders were part of this curriculum, where someone was there teaching them where the plans were coming from and they were actually going, if there was a garden around, they would show them how the plants were growing and the ways the kids can be involved with these gardens. Right now I’m working closely with them at Swansea Elementary, we just met two weeks ago with the parents. It s a way to involve the community, the parents, and the schools, and also the kids, so they can be involved and see where the fruits and vegetables are coming from.
Sam: All this seems like a big challenge in the context of today s world, today s economy. Ken Hulslander, you may have a lot of families where both parents have to work, maybe they work long hours, not making a lot of money, and the convenience of prepackaged foods is something that just works better in their day, maybe they don’t have time to garden. Any thoughts on how we can get past some societal issues we have that are barriers? 0:31:04.8
Ken: I think once again education is the route to take here. We keep talking about low-income families, but these are problems that are shared by upper class as well. The middle class, everybody s working, time is short, we re running in 90 different directions, and it s easier just to grab a box. So I think it s really important that people learn about what the stuff that you put in your face actually does to your body and the damage you end up doing if you re not careful. I think that s a good start for everybody. I think it s also important that we understand that what we put in our face has an impact on the Third World, that it isn t just about, Oh, I bought this, and it has no impact anywhere, that it s all connected and the more we buy things that have been processed, the more it hurts the world and the planet we live on. So I think it s important that everybody learn those things. And also to learn that there are a bunch of recipes and things that you can do that don’t take much time, that end up giving you better food, and it s also about making Sunday a cooking day at your house so that we have things prepared that we can just pull out of the freezer, pull out of the refrigerator. It s a community thing you can do with your kids and it s fun. Those of us who grew up on farms, that s kind of the way we functioned. We all cooked together, we all cleaned together, we all did the farm work together, and I think kids who live in towns sometimes miss out on some of those things and miss out on your parents taking you aside and saying, Here s how you cook. Those are important things.
Sam: You grew up on a farm?
Ken: I did.
Sam: Do you ever talk about that to the kids at Ashley?
Ken: I do.
Sam: That s Ken Hulslander. He s the principal at Ashley Elementary School in northeast Denver. They re an INEP school, meaning a school that works with the Integrated Nutrition Education Project. INEP s evaluation and community outreach coordinator, Catia Chavez, is also with us. We re taking your calls at 303-442-4242 as we discuss healthy eating and how schools work with kids and parents and how families can work together to eat healthier. Let s hear from Eve. Hi, Eve, you re on KGNU. Eve: Good morning. Excellent program. It sounds like this is a great thing for children and families to learn about real food. In that direction, I wonder if they re being informed about which foods have the most and the least pesticide residues. I had a little moment of concern when I heard the recipe for the quesadilla, because the peppers are something that s notoriously high in pesticide residues. So that, and also which foods are genetically modified. I think that children especially are going to be even more affected than adults by pesticide residues and by genetically modified foods. 0:34:51.2
Sam: Thanks for your question, Eve. Let s hear from Catia Chavez.
Catia: In this program, we do teach the kids about pesticides, but we don’t talk about eating just organic food, because the focus of the program is for the kids to eat more fruits and vegetables in general. If they re not eating that, it s important that they eat more fruits and vegetables. We also know that organic food is more expensive, too, so that can be a barrier for these low-income families. And again, for the quesadilla recipe, it can be any kind of vegetables, as long as it s colorful, and peppers, there is orange, red, yellow. The more colors, the better for the kids to eat the meal.
Sam: So you re taking the old one-step-at-a-time approach?
Sam: The main thing is to get the kids eating more fruits and vegetables?
Catia: Yes, that is the approach.
Sam: Let s hear from Ann. Hi, Ann, you re on KGNU.
Ann: Hello. I was really excited to hear about the scratch program, because I remember going to middle school and seeing the Pizza Hut delivery delivering five-foot-tall stacks of pizza boxes to the back door of our cafeteria. So the scratch menu program is really exciting. But my question was, there are lots of things in our processed foods that turn off our ability to sense when we are full, and when people have cravings, that s a symptom or a signal for some severe imbalances in your body. The other day on Eat Your Radio I heard a young girl being interviewed about her sugar, her chocolate craving. Are you able to teach the kids I don’t know, do you address in some way if they re because for a lot of people, if they have an impaired digestive system, if they re even constipated, if they re dehydrated, if they have hormone imbalances, like thyroid, they can’t tell if they re full. Sometimes if they re nutritionally deficient, they may feel very hungry still after eating a meal. Do you also allow the kids to learn how to sense when they re full, but also I’m very concerned about a child having such a charged issue over their food. I want a child to be able to eat and feel satisfied and not have to sit down and think, Is this bad? Is this good? Did they teach me right, did they teach me wrong at school? Am I a bad person because I have a severe craving that I can’t control?
Sam: That s an interesting situation, Ann, let s get both our guests to respond. Ken Hulslander?
Ann: It s kind of complicated, sorry.
Ken: I think one thing that s important, because all these points that have been raised are outstanding points that when you re really looking at food and nutrition much closer, you need to be looking at. But we re in the beginning stages of teaching kids how to eat, and so the major goal right now is to get kids off of hot Cheetos and on to broccoli. And then once we get them hooked on the broccoli and off the Cheetos, then we can start talking about how there are different kinds of broccoli. I’m not sure that at this point, other than maybe mentioning it, that that s where we need to be. We really need to be teaching kids about making better choices. Catia mentioned earlier the superfood program, that once a month they come in and they highlight a food. I remember the month that it was broccoli. You go into the cafeteria, and they decorate, and people are dressed up and there s broccoli spears on the table instead of flowers. Everybody I mean, broccoli was everywhere. They even made a broccoli smoothie, and I was the first one to raise my nose to that, and I love broccoli, but a broccoli smoothie, I’m sorry, just couldn’t go there. 0:39:04.6 I tasted it and went, Oh, my God, this is really good! That s what we need from the kids, just understanding that broccoli can be your friend. And then as they get better instructed about how to make good choices and to leave the fast food and do this and leave the hot Cheetos and get a fruit, then we can start looking at these other things. Because if we went in and really started with that with kids, they would be so panicked about food, I’m not sure they would eat anything. So I think what the program is doing right now is just helping kids make better choices, and I think that s their goal, and Catia, you can correct me if I’m wrong there, but the goal right now is just, let s make better choices. In another grade, maybe we can look at the chemical stuff, because all of those things are important. They re super-important. But if we don’t get kids out of the hot Cheetos bag, all of that stuff is moot. So I think it s a step-by-step program, as we were saying earlier.
Catia: And I agree with Ken. We want them to make better choices and also to try new fruits and vegetables, too. That is the main objective right now.
Sam: What if you have a fifth grader who says, I’m trying this healthy eating, I like it, but I’m just not feeling full. It could be because of an imbalance or a craving. Do kids say that? The healthy food is nice, but it s not filling me up? How do you respond? Eat more of it?
Catia: [laughs] The could be an option. I haven t heard that comment from a kid, but we do encourage the parents to have healthy food available in their homes, have a bowl of fruit in the living room, in the kitchen. We also tell them to have prepared vegetables as a snack available, so when they re hungry, it is ready for the kids to eat. So instead of having cookies, crackers, or Cheetos, we encourage them to have fruits and vegetable available for the kids. So that is a good way for them if they re hungry to eat more of that. 0:41:11.3
Sam: We re talking about encouraging healthy eating in the schools and the home with Catia Chavez from INEP, the Integrated Nutrition Education Project. Ken Hulslander is with us, he s the principal at Ashley Elementary School in northeast Denver. They participate in the INEP program. Another caller, Nancy. Hi, Nancy, you re on KGNU. Nancy: Hi, thanks. I first wanted to say, I ve been following the Eat Your Radio program for a long time, I just think it s fabulous. I love the kids reporting and all of that. I find what you-all are describing really exciting, because if you don’t get kids young, it s really hard to change how people eat later, I think. But I wanted to make a comment that I think kind of picks up on one of the last callers concerns about policing what we eat. And the reason is that I had eating disorders when I was younger, and I think they were all tied into ideas of being a good person and ideas of being self-controlled and all of that. So I think there s a danger when we get kids to talk a lot about and think a lot about what they eat, that we make it too big of an issue, and that it can turn into an eating disorder, especially with all the emphasis for girls, for example, on slimness and stuff. So I just wanted to raise that to follow up on the discussion that the other caller started about how it s such a fine line to walk between teaching kids what s good for them and making them feel like, This is what I have to do to be good. What I like about what I heard on the radio program is that it seems like the emphasis has been much more on just finding other things that you like, and I think that s a real important difference between that and saying, Eating things that are good for you. If kids get exposed to things that are good for them, they will want to eat them, and then you don’t have to get that piece in there about what you should do, even what you should do that s good for you, rather than just, Look at all these great foods that we can eat and enjoy. Just to add, really quickly, there was a study years ago where they let kids eat whatever they wanted for a week. The first two or three days all they ate was sweets and junk food, and after that they started craving peas and things. So if you just keep telling them to listen to their body, they ll eat what s good for them, and the good food will fill them up.
Sam: Thanks, Nancy. 303-442-4242 the number to call to join our conversation. Catia or Ken, do you have anything to add to that? It sounds like Nancy is agreeing with the approach you re taking in INEP. 0:43:50.9
Ken: And I think she s right-on. Right now, it s just about getting kids to make better choices, which we ve seen in things like, now they re eating out of the salad bar, whereas a couple of years ago that salad bar would not have functioned, and now it is, because kids are just looking at it as, Ooh, that might be good. And the idea that fifth graders, they eat a lot, that s just the nature of the beast. The body is growing and it needs energy, so they eat a lot, but it s to get them to make better choices when they re eating those things. And the thing that I find funny is the parents who have told me, because Catia is talking about how when kids come home make sure you ve got vegetables cut up, and people might think, My kids won t eat that. I ve had parents tell me, My kids do eat that. I’m surprised, but when I have that stuff out, they eat it. And again, part of it is, they re a fifth grader, they will eat anything, so if you put good stuff out, they re going to eat that, but because of this program, they re going, Oh, broccoli, that sounds good! Again, it s just education.
Catia: Yes, I agree with that, and also the kids are supposed to know fruits and vegetables. When you are a kid, Try this broccoli, try this cabbage, and they ll say, No, I don’t like it, and they never try it before, so when they try it and like it they re more likely to go home and ask for it and try it and eat it.
Sam: 303-442-4242. Join our conversation about kids and healthy eating in the schools and at home, how to change the behavior, how to interest the kids and the parents in healthier eating. What tips do you have? Maybe there s some tricks that you ve used in your own home that have worked. It sounds like Chuck is back? Chuck: Yes, I am. I was just wanting to touch base really quickly on the chemical signal that you re full. Recently there was an article in the New York Times titled Is Sugar Toxic? It was a write-up on a biochemist who has a viral YouTube presentation where he talks about how your liver processes glucose, fructose, and sucrose differently. The shift in our natural science away from or towards fructose and sucrose, which is what you have, the sugars that you have, the carbohydrates that you have in fruits, but separated from the fibers, which are so important. The way that our liver processes that is completely different from the way that you would process glucose. The signal that has been addressed by a number of other people for the suppression of appetite is what s addressed by this. By going back to more natural, unprocessed foods, you re going to go ahead and feel like you re full at the right time, when you actually are. I just wanted to alert people that this information is available online, it s pretty easy to find those articles. They re quite entertaining.
Sam: Thanks, Chuck. We all crave sugar, to one degree or another. Trying to get natural sugars. I guess we crave three things, Catia, right? Sugar, salt, and fat.
Catia: Exactly. And those three things are the ones that we should avoid. [laughs]
Sam: But we can satisfy those cravings to some degree with healthy foods.
Catia: We can, like dried fruit, which has sugar but it actually healthier for you.
Sam: What are the next steps here? Obviously continuing this kind of nutrition education in the schools is important. If you could take it to the next level, what would you do? 0:47:54.0
Catia: Actually, it s really important to educate the kids, but the parents, I think we are trying to expand this nutrition program for the parents. Last year we were in 26 schools teaching parent classes, and we are trying to increase the number. And also, we are telling the parents to spread the word, try to talk with a neighbor or a relative about these tips and healthy eating that you just learned in the classroom. Because in each class series, we have a mom or two or even most of the time all of them, they make a small change from week to week, and that small changes makes a big difference in their family. So I think that is important, even if they do one change, I think we have accomplished our goal.
Sam: Ken Hulslander, if you could expand this in your school, what would you do? What would be the next step for Ashley?
Ken: I think the once-a-week things works really well. What I do believe is that with the kids, we continue doing what we re doing in the sense of just getting them to make better choices, but I agree with Catia. The backup of this has got to be within the families. Especially the moms in my school, there are a lot of them that are really interested in this stuff. A lot of even though the families in my school came from other countries and other cultures where they ve had to make huge shifts in the way they cook and the way they get food, so having someone who is giving them some guidance around that, how to make better choices within the system. I have families who came from Somalia, and they re facing King Soopers and going, OK, what do we do here? So I think the education for the adult part is huge, and I think that really needs to be the next stage that gets expanded as much as possible. But don’t hurt the program for the kids. [laughs]
Sam: Would that be something INEP would be interested in expanding, parent education?
Catia: Yes, it s actually in the plans of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to have more parent educators for the parents.
Sam: As we wrap up, can you remind people again, Catia Chavez, of what resource INEP has available and how people can access them?
Catia: Yes. We have a website where we have recipes, we have some other websites around the state that have tips for parents, and we also have the curriculums in the websites too for all the teachers that want to look at it. It s INEP.cudenver.edu. If you have more questions, you can also call me, 303-724-4461, or you can call the director of the program, Leslie Beckstrom, at 303-724-4459.
Sam: And if you missed those numbers, you can call us at KGNU and we can pass on the information to you. Is INEP interested in working in other school districts?
Catia: Yes. Like I mentioned before, we are around the state. Right now we are in 12 counties, 21 districts, and 107 schools. We are expanding every year. We have schools in Aurora and Jefferson County, Adams 14. We are always trying to increase those numbers.
Sam: And you could also Internet search on INEP. You could also Internet search on Eat Your Radio and you ll come to the website that KGNU has set up for our piece of the project, which also has resources and recipes. We invite you to tune in tomorrow morning at 8:45 when we ll continue our nutrition coverage with Robyn Obrien. She s the author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It. Chef Ann Cooper will also be joining us. She s working to transform school food in the Boulder Valley school district. Eat Your Radio s programming was recently recognized by the Colorado Broadcasters Association, we re proud of that. You can find out more at EatYourRadio.kgnu.org, or if you re driving and you can’t write these websites down, just do a search on Eat Your Radio when you get to your destination. I want to thank Catia Chavez, the evaluation and community outreach coordinator for the Integrated Nutrition Education Project, and also Ken Hulslander, principal at Ashley Elementary School in northeast Denver who s been working with KGNU and INEP. We really appreciate that, Ken. Thanks for coming in. Thank you, Catia.
Catia: Thank you.