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Nurture's program combines philanthropic giving with hands-on teaching, providing limited-resource parents with tools to help them stretch their food dollars in a meaningful and healthy way. We seek to empower care givers with time efficient and cost effective means to provide healthy meals for their families. Our program also emphasizes the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Limited-resource families often face significant challenges to providing healthy, home cooked meals, as families are often headed by a single parent and/or parents who work more than one job to make ends meet. These parents can be overwhelmed by the time and resources believed to be necessary in order to prepare healthy, home cooked meals. They may turn instead to convenience foods, which can contain disproportionate amounts of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and/or calories. The availability of such convenience foods (in gas stations and vending machines, for example) as well as the ubiquitous nature of fast food chains, make quick and unhealthy meals more often the norm for these families. In fact, low income areas are targeted by fast food chains (which serve high-fat, high-sodium and highly processed foods), with a higher presence of such restaurants documented in low income areas.
Nurture meets with families approximately twice a month during the evening hours, providing child care for very young children and nutrition education programs for school age children. We kick off our sessions with a healthy and delicious community meal. We strive to make nutrition education an experience for the entire family. During the sessions, cooking equipment and techniques are introduced with the goal of making meals quick, easy, economical and healthy. Participants are given free equipment, such as rice cookers and slow cookers, that will help them save time and money. Food staples are also provided to participant families so that they can make the new recipes at home. Physical activities lessons are incorporated into each childrens session; while the adults have a specific class dedicated to physical activity. The program concludes with a graduation ceremony, when each participant receives a recognition gift.
Nurture strives to educate participant families about food and nutrition, but do so through practical and simple applications (hands on cooking demonstrations). The ultimate goal is to replace the "bad" with the "good" in daily eating through a gradual process of small steps taken over time. The gradual approach will avoid the "overload and disengage" syndrome often associated with trying to make too much change at once.
- Lisa Brewer
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