Kid’s Nutrition Program: Educating Children Throughout the LC-Valley

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The team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at Tri-State Wellness commits their time to improve the health and wellbeing of our children in the Lewis-Clark Valley. Last year, the wellness team piloted a Kid’s Nutrition Program for local students at Orchards Elementary. The 271 students at Orchards Elementary watched education videos at home or in school covering lessons on basic food groups and healthy snack recipes. Tri-State Wellness provided a cookbook and apron to each participating child to equip them in the kitchen with their newly learned skills!

This year the program has grown exponentially with 11 participating elementary schools across the Lewiston and Clarkston School Districts; it now includes 3,163 students.

“The best part of this program is the excitement and participation we get from the kids when getting to work in the kitchen,” said Jen Scharffer, Director of Wellness and founder of the Kid’s Nutrition Program. “Sometimes cooking becomes a forgotten skill and we love how fun it is for the children to learn how to prepare food, especially in a healthy way! We believe that some of the cooking techniques and nutrition information that we discuss can be applicable to children’s lives now and when they become independent.”

The Kid’s Nutrition Program addresses the prevalence of childhood obesity and diabetes in our community. According to Washington State Healthy Youth Survey 2016, 15% of youth eat fruits and vegetables less than once per day, and 16% are obese. If you are interested in watching the nutrition videos with your child, they are available on the Tri-State Memorial Hospital YouTube channel or by following their Facebook page, Tri-State Wellness. The wellness team hopes this program will empower children at a young age to start developing healthy eating habits that will benefit them for years to come.

“Our Kid’s Nutrition Program was created in an effort to address obesity and to provide more disease prevention resources to our community,” said Jen. “We want to support schools in this effort, as well as families, because we know that lifestyle habits start at a very young age.”

“My granddaughter is in second grade at Parkway,” said Kelly Pease, a longtime community member and proud grandparent. “When I got home, she was so excited to show me what had happened in her class – a gift from Tri-State! She has been looking through her cookbook and finding things she ‘wants to make this weekend.’ If even half of the kids were as excited as she was…that is a success!!”

The Tri-State Hospital Foundation has supported the Kid’s Nutrition Program for the last two years by securing grants from local community organizations. This year, the Kid’s Nutrition Program was sponsored by AbbVie, Avista Foundation, Banner Bank, Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health, Michael & Brooke Henze, Trevor Arnone, Twin County United Way, and Walmart.

“Giving back is an integral part of who we are as an AbbVie employee. We have great flexibility to use our resources to support needs where we live locally, nationally, and globally,” said Michael and Brooke Henze, donors of the Kid’s Nutrition Program. “The Kid’s Nutrition Program is a vital part of support for both physical and mental health in our young people that will be our future leaders. Brooke and I believe it is our responsibility to use these resources to benefit those young people here in the LC-Valley. We are excited to support Tri-State with this innovative program that helps children learn the benefits good nutrition habits that enhances their wellbeing now and in the future. We were all children once, where would we be without the support of others?”

If you are interested in partnering with the Tri-State Hospital Foundation to aid in the Kid’s Nutrition Program’s funding or future wellness programs, please email the foundation at foundation@tsmh.org.