UMB News

Previous Articles
2014
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2013
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2012
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

UMB Helps City in Taking Steps to Reduce Childhood Obesity

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is collaborating with the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative in a strategy to reduce childhood obesity by making healthy kids' meals available at Lexington Market.

UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, joined with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, JD, and others at the market May 7 to launch the initiative, Get Fresh Kids.
(See UMB's photo gallery)

The program is an expansion of Get Fresh Get Fit, an earlier health campaign by the city that is aimed at all people of all ages who shop at public markets.



"To provide healthy food where it's needed most, we are excited to launch Get Fresh Kids and unveil the new kids' meals at Lexington Market, where 250,000 kids come each year," says Rawings-Blake. "We have already made it a priority to increase the number of healthy food choices within the public markets. Now, we are focusing on children's health to ensure that kids learn how to make healthy eating choices early on."

The city found that in Baltimore, approximately 31,000 children live in so-called "food desert" that not only lack healthy food, but are swamped with unhealthy choices.

"Childhood obesity is a complex issue with genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors at play," says Perman. "The University of Maryland, Baltimore is deeply committed to making the Westside and Lexington Market area more conducive to healthy living with healthier food choices for our children."

Also participating in the launch was Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, PhD, interim health commissioner for Baltimore City. "Childhood obesity has both short and long-term effects that contribute to several chronic diseases," she says, noting that innovative programs like Get Fresh Kids will help to move "in a positive direction."

To date, nine Lexington Market vendors are offering healthy kids menus that include water, fruit and vegetables, and appropriately sized entrees that were evaluated by a dietician.

"We are very excited to be partnering with the City to improve the health of our customers. I find it disheartening to see young children eating fried foods and sodas for breakfast," says Casper Genco, executive director of Lexington Market. "Get Fresh Kids will not only increase the availability of healthy food, but also provide nutrition education to help our customers make healthier choices."

To persuade children and their families to make healthier choices, Get Fresh Kids will hold a free edible art workshop each month for the next year at Lexington Market. Engaging children in hands-on art projects will introduce them to fruits and vegetables that they might not have tried before.

At the launch, third-graders from George Washington Elementary School (GWES) were enthusiastic as they made frogs from apples and grapes. They got many helping hands from adults who were also creating crafts projects. Rawlings-Blake, Duval-Harvey, and Perman, shown above with eight-year-old Xavier Peterson, were among the food artists.

GWES is a partner with the University through CLUB UMB, which works with several public schools during the academic year to encourage youngsters in activities that include health, art, science and math education. School of Social Work student Lindsay Schwartz, who helps direct these activities as an intern with the University's Department of Government and Community Affairs, was busy on the craft project and is shown below with a girl who is engaged in a coloring activity intended to teach nutrition.

CLUB UMB student at market
Other student helpers at the launch included several School of Dentistry students who work with Baltimore public schools teaching nutrition and health. Shown below with GWES pupils, standing left to right, are SOD third-year students Ellen Hailemelecot and Bryana Williams.

Both students are Albert Schweitzer fellows at the University, and first-year SOD student Shariq Khan is becoming a fellow.

At GWES, Williams said she and Hailemelecot conducted an after-school program that offered an hour of physical fitness in addition to nutrition instruction. "We tried to make it fun for them" using games such as a relay race, explains Williams. "They got to keep their food at the end; that was their prize."


sod students at market

Kids' art projects will be edible during each of the free monthly workshops at Lexington Market, just as the clever grape- and- apple frogs were destined to be healthy snacks at the launch.

Among officials participating in the launch were Audrey Rowe, administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Holly Freishtat, MS, director of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative; Chuck Tildon, vice president, strategic partnerships and government relations, United Way of Central Maryland; and Christophe Turk, principal, GWES.

Get Fresh Kids participating vendors are Aunt's Kitchen, Barron's Deli, Blue Island, CAJUN, Country Kitchen, Honolulu, Kathy's Deli, Mexican Delight, and Royal Deli East.

These nine are among nearly 50 vendors at Lexington Market that have begun a partnership with the university by offering discounts to UMB customers showing identification badges, all part of the university's efforts to strengthen the Westside.



Posting Date: 05/12/2014
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu