PHOTO: Courtesy of Pam Sutton
McFerran Preparatory Academy Head Start teacher Pam Sutton wanted to make sure the children in her classroom learned healthy habits early. After implementing a walking program, she contacted Clarissa Cheatwood, with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, for help with nutrition education.
Cheatwood is one of five extension office assistants for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in Jefferson County. EFNEP provides nutrition education to low-income families and individuals with the goal of creating healthier lifestyles.
Throughout the school year, Cheatwood taught weekly lessons to the children from the Learning, Eating and Activity for Pre-School Age Children curriculum. She also read stories, conducted food demonstrations and brought in fruits and vegetables for the students to taste.
“I believe childhood obesity is a growing epidemic,” Sutton said. “A lot of the children in my classroom didn’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and their parents don’t push consumption. But Clarissa introduced new foods to them in a way that was fun, and they tried them and liked them.”
As a result of the popularity of some of the foods, Sutton and the Head Start students grew a garden this spring that included spinach, kale, radishes and collard greens. At the end of the school year, the vegetables were harvested and made into a smoothie for the children to enjoy.
Many of them also took the information they received from Cheatwood home to their parents.
“I had parents contacting me wanting to know about the fruits and vegetables they tasted in the classroom, because their children loved them so much,” Sutton said. “Many of them started offering them in their homes.”
Clarissa Cheatwood, 502-569-2344