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.
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
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
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.
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
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."
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
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