Six communities in Iowa won grants from the Iowa Department of Public Health for programs they’ve developed to get kids more active and eating healthier. The Pocahontas Area Community School District receive one of the previous state grants.
Elementary principal Lynn Moody says it took a change in their mindset to start thinking healthy. For example, Moody says he used to reward kids who cleaned their plates at lunch with candy, until he heard from a mother who was concerned the candy wasn’t helping.
Moody says he went and did a great deal of research and talked with a lot of people and found that there’s no evidence that rewarding kids for eating is a good idea — especially not rewarding them with more food. Moody says that changed his thinking, and got him to research more on how to properly change the attitudes of adults and kids.
Moody says the alarming to learn that obese children are five times more likely to have problems in their future with their health, especially with diabetes. Moody says the school district went to work to find a way to get kids to eat healthier. He says the initiated the “Pick a better snack and act” curriculum that includes all kinds of information on healthy fruits and vegetables. Each month they focus on four types of fruits and vegetables and provide taste testing for the kids.
Moody says they used the state grant to help get kids to a wellness center. Moody says they put together a trip to bus kids to a neighboring community to the wellness center and pack a healthy snack in a bag. Moody says the program is helping change the attitudes of the kids.
Moody says the program provides “taste development” because the kids get an opportunity to taste fruit and vegetables they’ve never seen before. Moody says kids are now thinking about eating grapes and strawberries and bananas, rather than snickers and pop when they get hungry.
Moody says they used to talk about eating healthy just during test times, but now they talk about it all year long. The grant winners are the Adair County Board of Health in Greenfield, Community Health Partners in Hawarden, Dallas County Public Nursing Service in Perry, Eastern Iowa Community College in Davenport, Healthy Henry County Communities in Mount Pleasant, and Washington County Pubic Health and Home Care in Washington.