In a society filled with super-sized fast food meals and a wealth of fatty, sugary, and salty prepackaged foods, it can be difficult for families to eat healthfully.
Well Fed: Nourishing Our Children for a Lifetime follows the growth of a child, highlighting the importance of good nutrition starting in infancy and continuing through the teenage years. The program explores childhood nutrition, its impact on health outcomes and obesity rates, and efforts across the state to make it easy for families to eat well.
While breast milk is universally hailed as superior to infant formula, breastfeeding rates in the state are among the nation’s lowest. At the Mother and Baby unit at the University of Kentucky Healthcare, hospital staff encourage Kangaroo Care with all mothers to promote greater breastfeeding initiation rates. Dr. Rebecca Collins, director of the newborn nursery, explains the benefits of breastfeeding and Kangaroo Care and discusses how hospital policy unwittingly discouraged breastfeeding for many years.
The School Years
Schoolchildren face another set of nutrition challenges, from candy bar and cookie dough fundraisers to school lunches full of processed foods. We look at innovative efforts to change eating habits in several Kentucky schools.
At Bloom Elementary in Louisville, parent volunteers joined together with school support to offer “Food is Elementary,” a licensed 26-week nutrition curriculum involving cooking and tasting of foods from around the world.
Studies show that if you start a healthy activity on a Monday you are more likely to continue it throughout the week. This was the concept that led Latonia Elementary to implement “Meatless Mondays” in the school cafeteria so children could explore vegetarian options. As Principal Procaccino says, “I like a hamburger as much as anyone, but it is a good healthy choice to go meatless once a week.”
The quality of meat served at school lunches has been a controversial subject. At Montgomery County High School, students in the Future Farmers of America program are taking matters into their own hands by raising their own beef for sale in the cafeteria.
The program also examines the impact of food deserts on the nutrition of children and highlights efforts in Eastern Kentucky and Western Louisville to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and to change the culture of food in the area.
In Jackson County in Eastern Kentucky, residents have access to only two small grocery stores with a limited produce selection. To address this, the Health Department, in partnership with other community organizations, is helping residents revive long-standing cultural traditions such as gardening and canning.
People in Western Louisville food deserts are coming together to bypass the limited traditional mechanisms for accessing fresh produce (grocery stores, corner stores, farmers markets) by creating new distribution points. Called “Fresh Stops,” these are places where people come together to negotiate directly with farmers for bulk produce, which is then divided and offered to everyone in shares on a sliding scale fee.
In Western Louisville, many residents do not own cars, so convenience stores often become the de facto neighborhood grocery store. Because these businesses do not traditionally carry fresh produce due to spoilage issues, community partners initiated the “Healthy in a Hurry” program, which provides financial and technical assistance to corner store operators who agree to sell fruits and vegetables.
Featured Programs and Initiatives
- Ky Hydro Farm: This Western Kentucky family farm offers products that are fresh and pesticide-free.
- The Monday Campaigns: A national movement backed by leading public health schools that dedicates the first day of every week to health, for example, Meatless Monday, Kids Cook Monday, and Move it Monday.
- Kentucky Farm to School Program: Encourages schools in the state to request and receive local produce if prices are comparable to out of state produce.
- Food is Elementary, Food Studies Institute: Educates children about nutrition by providing a positive experience of food and food preparation that is fun, hands-on and sensory-based.
- Healthy in a Hurry Corner Stores: Makes it possible for grocers in Louisville neighborhoods known as “food deserts” to carry fresh produce and other healthy foods.
- New Roots, Inc.–Fresh Stop: A Louisville-based non-profit organization that works to improve the distribution and utilization of fresh foods.</p>
- Team Up 4 Health: Sponsored by Humana, this approach is based on small groups of about 2-6 participants who work together to achieve personal health goals.
- Partnership for a Fit Kentucky: Available reports for download include “Shaping Kentucky’s Future: A Community Guide to Reducing Obesity Local Success Stories” and “Farm to School Handbook.”
- Kentucky Breastfeeding Resource Guide, Kentucky Department for Public Health (PDF)
Choose My Plate: A U.S. Department of Agriculture resource on how to create healthy meals.
Well Fed: Nourishing Our Children for a Lifetime is a KET production, produced by Laura Krueger, and is funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
This documentary follows up on KET’s 2010 award-winning special report More Than Child’s Play: Why Physical Activity Matters, which examined childhood obesity rates in Kentucky and the impact of children’s sedentary lifestyles.