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Programs

Health and Nutrition Programs

Chefs for Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) collaborated with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Chefs of Las Vegas to develop nutrition education curricula that promote health practices engendering lifelong, healthy lifestyles in children. These practices can lower risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases. Chefs for Kids is an in-school nutrition education program for primary grade children in at-risk elementary schools in Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada. The program consists of two parts: an intensive, second-grade curriculum (Choose Well, Be Well) and a video curriculum (Adventures with Chefs for Kids) aimed at first-graders. The first-grade curriculum introduces the food groups to children and focuses on food for strength, growth, health and energy. The weekly second-grade program helps children choose foods that will give the greatest benefit to their bodies, as well as on physical activity and food safety practices.

Issue

Childhood and adolescence are the critical periods for development of good health practices. Many health behaviors established in childhood persist into adulthood. Because many chronic diseases are attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity and weight, it is essential to start good health practices as early as possible. Proper nutrition is essential to a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development.

Although strong programs to build healthful eating and physical activity practices reduce the burden of chronic disease, there are very few programs teaching nutrition practices to children. Chefs for Kids fills this gap, teaching first- and second-grade students the basic skills needed to make these healthful choices.

Individuals (including children) from lower socio-economic status are more likely to be obese or overweight than those of higher socio-economic status. As a group, Mexican American boys tend to have a higher incidence of overweight than non-Hispanic white or non-Hispanic black boys; and non-Hispanic black girls tend to have a higher prevalence of overweight than Mexican American or non-Hispanic white girls. Nevada consistently ranks among those states with the poorest self-reported eating and activity practices.

What Has Been Done:

Every week, Chefs for Kids educators teach children about healthy food combinations, choosing foods that provide the greatest benefit to their bodies, and the importance of physical activity. The curriculum reflects the essential experiences necessary for first- and second-graders as outlined in the standards of the Nevada Department of Education. The curriculum integrates several disciplines into the nutrition lessons, including mathematics, reading, physical education and art. Chefs for Kids ensures that children receive instruction in healthful nutrition practices based on the most current research. Monthly challenges, topical newsletters and monthly wellness calendars, written in both English and Spanish, are given to families to expand instruction into the home.

Chefs for Kids’ volunteers donate more than 3,000 hours yearly to prepare breakfasts for the children and raise funds to support the program. The Chefs for Kids program has reached more than 32,500 students since its inception 20 years ago. The second-grade program is offered in 12 schools in Clark County and four schools in Washoe County. The first-grade program was taught in 22 different schools reaching 2,505 students. The program reached 216 teachers (77 in the second grade and 139 in first grade).

Impact:

In the second-grade program:

  • More than 83 percent of students demonstrate proper hand washing procedures as taught in the hand-washing lessons.
  • Nearly 93 percent of students in the program are able to list two activities considered part of an active lifestyle according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.
  • Eighty-two percent of students in the program are able to identify two foods from each of the five food groups.
  • The program increases number of students who improve their snack food choices from the beginning to the end of the nutrition intervention. In schools where students attended at least 25 program lessons, 24 percent chose three snacks rated as less healthful; following the intervention, only 6 percent chose three snacks rated as less healthful.

In the first-grade program:

  • Of the 2,141 evaluated for food categorization, the average score was 89.8 percent, with 41 percent identifying all foods, 23 percent missed only one food and 13 percent missed two foods.
Partners:

Chefs for Kids Foundation, ACF Chefs Las Vegas, USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Share Our Strength, Private Donations

Printable Program Impact

Contacts: Susan Lednicky, Program Officer, 702-257-5548,
Madeleine Sigman-Grant, Area Maternal and Child Health Specialist, 702-257-5534,
Cathy Baptista, Community Based Instructor, 702-940-5426,
Veronica Espinoza, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5566,
Crystal Momii, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5591,
Debbie Presto, Community Based Instructor, 775-784-4848,
LaShuna Proctor, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5569,
Sonia Casales, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5517

Health and Nutrition Programs

Programs Program Information

All 4 Kids

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by UNCE faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.

An Apple A Day

Calcium, It’s not Just Milk

The Calcium, It’s Not Just Milk program’s focus is to increase awareness, knowledge and skills among the target audience (11- to 14-year-old middle school students) related to increasing consumption of calcium-rich foods. These efforts have been promoted through classroom lessons and hands-on activities with the assistance and support of school district administrators and teachers.

Chefs for Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) collaborated with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Chefs of Las Vegas to develop nutrition education curricula that promote health practices engendering lifelong, healthy lifestyles in children. These practices can lower risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases. Chefs for Kids is an in-school nutrition education program for primary grade children in at-risk elementary schools in Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada. The program consists of two parts: an intensive, second-grade curriculum (Choose Well, Be Well) and a video curriculum (Adventures with Chefs for Kids) aimed at first-graders. The first-grade curriculum introduces the food groups to children and focuses on food for strength, growth, health and energy. The weekly second-grade program helps children choose foods that will give the greatest benefit to their bodies, as well as on physical activity and food safety practices.

Eat Smart, Live Strong

Improves fruit and vegetable consumption and use of commodity foods among seniors, many of whom are low-income, hungry or need nutrition-related assistance. The program includes classes on growing herbs and small vegetables in window pots, food safety tips and healthy recipes using commodity foods.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

The mission of Nevada’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is to assist families with limited financial resources. Through educational support and experiential learning, the families acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior to improve their nutritional and health status in order to prevent chronic disease and enhance family well-being. Practical application allows learners to see the relevance of information to their daily lives.

Food for Health and Soul

Food for Health and Soul is a nutrition education curriculum designed to teach skills to modify family-favorite recipes for better health. The goal of this six-session curriculum is to decrease the risk for chronic disease. The interactive curriculum encourages and teaches families to modify their favorite recipes by decreasing sugar, fat, salt and sodium and increasing fiber-rich foods during preparation, decreasing the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and some cancers. Most lessons include food preparation and sampling.

Food Safety Project

Grow Yourself Healthy

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Objective:

Healthy Steps to Freedom

Alcohol and drug addiction are serious, chronic and relapsing health problems for both women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Leading to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse often precipitates violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, motor vehicle crashes, homelessness, rising health care costs and obesity.

Nevada Care Connection

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) collaborated with the University’s Sanford Center for Aging in the creation of a network for all Nevada seniors, their caregivers or relatives who need information, referral, social or health care services and case management at a single point of entry. Nevada Care Connection (NVCC) avoids duplication in the application process, is easily accessible (by phone, Internet or in person) and available 24 hours a day.

Nevada Radon Education Program

The Nevada Radon Education Program is a partnership with the Nevada State Health Division to educate Nevadans about the possible health risk posed by elevated levels of radon in the home. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) offers literature, educational programs and radon test kits in many county Extension offices.

Nurturing Partners

Working primarily in high schools, UNCE staff members are able to facilitate changes in knowledge, attitude and practice of teens regarding general nutrition and health, specific issues of pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting guidance. The flexible curriculum enables staff to personalize needs for each class.

Nutrition Basics

Seniors CAN

Seniors CAN is a life skills educational program created by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) to optimize successful aging by improving older adults' quality of life and help them maintain high-quality independent living. This program addresses the needs of southern Nevada's rapidly growing elderly population in Clark County.

Small Steps 4 Big Changes

Parent involvement is recognized as a key factor in making wise food selections and shaping food and health behavior attitudes that affect the child’s habits and food preferences. Conducted in partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program, a series of ten nutrition lessons incorporate recipe preparation, food sampling and physical activity segments, with additional nutrition education content for the parent or adult caregiver. All lesson segments are focused on thriving within a limited budget, as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This program has been successfully offered to five Reno Housing Authority (RHA) and other 4-H After School Program sites since the initial launch of the pilot program. The program fosters behavior changes identified by the Centers for Disease Control as being linked to childhood obesity prevention.

Team Nutrition “Smart Choices”

This program strives to address the public health issue of childhood obesity through building basic skills related to food selection and promoting an increased variety of nutritious foods consumed especially vegetables and fruits.

Veggies for Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) Veggies for Kids program takes a proactive approach toward eating and experiencing different kinds of vegetables for American Indian children at a young age.