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Kids 'N the Kitchen

Tanner's Get Healthy, Live Well rolls out mobile teaching kitchens 

In keeping with its mission to help improve the community’s health, Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well is rolling out mobile teaching kitchens for schools in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties.  

Kids ‘N the Kitchen, an interactive teaching kitchen program for grades K-8, is designed to help teach students healthy cooking skills and improve their nutrition. The rolling steel kitchen’s countertop features an induction cooktop, reversible griddle and food processor for cooking demonstrations. The kitchen also includes a stainless steel pop-up table for additional prep space. 

The carts, funded by a Partnerships to Improve Community Health grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were distributed to area schools in March 2017. The pilot schools included Buchanan Primary School, Carrollton Elementary School, Central Elementary School, Villa Rica Middle School and Whitesburg Elementary School

Kids ‘N the Kitchen is a program that assists schools in hands-on cooking, taste testing and nutrition education for students. The program includes lesson plans with topics ranging from “Fun With Food Groups” to “Veggie Superheroes.”  

“The goal of the Kids ‘N the Kitchen program is to improve nutrition knowledge and provide skills that will positively impact children’s health throughout their lives,” said Denise Taylor, senior vice president and chief community health and brand officer for Tanner. “Providing these mobile teaching kitchens to schools helps make cooking convenient, fun and interactive.” 

The program will help children become more familiar with a variety of fruits and vegetables while teaching them some fundamental cooking skills. Some of the program’s objectives include teaching children how to read food labels, create a healthy meal and identify hidden sugar in drinks.

In October 2016, Get Healthy, Live Well began a pilot of the program in partnership with Carrollton City Schools. With Kids ‘N the Kitchen, the Carrollton City Schools Nutrition Program has been able to tie nutrition education to the school’s curriculum standards with classroom visits at Carrollton Elementary School.

“We’re applying nutrition education in combination with academic lessons,” said Dr. Linette Dodson, Director of School Nutrition for Carrollton City Schools. “For example, we did a math lesson with the third-grade class at the elementary school on fractions where they learned how to double a recipe.”

They also did a lesson on changes in matter and students were able to watch the transformation of a pear as it cooked. And of course, the students get to taste test the recipes prepared in combination with the nutrition education, which have included sweet potato hummus, fruit smoothies, whole-grain pasta and kale salad.

“The teachers who have been a part of it have commented about the enhancement that it’s added,” Dodson said. “It gives those kids that hands on application. We’ve also used it with our after-school program at the elementary school and we do weekly nutrition education lessons with that group.”

Adding nutrition education in the classroom has led to more students making healthier choices in the cafeteria. 

  • Apple slices increased from 600 to 1,000 servings
  • Tossed salad increased from 400 to 800 servings
  • Overall willingness to try new foods has improved
  • Farm to School initiative has seen an increase in students selecting foods that have been incorporated into their lessons 
  • Participation in school lunches have increased 

While Kids ‘N the Kitchen is a fun solution to getting children to try new foods and learn basic cooking skills, it also helps address a serious health problem. According to the CDC, the percentage of youth suffering from unhealthy weight gain in the U.S. has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five youth ages 6-19 have excessive body fat.

Children at an unhealthy weight are at higher risk for having chronic health conditions like asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for heart disease. But changes in the environment where youth spend their time – like homes, schools and community settings – can help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight by making it easier to eat nutritious foods.

Kids ‘N the Kitchen helps heighten student’s awareness of the connection between what they eat and their health.

“This program is part of Get Healthy, Live Well’s commitment to introduce healthy habits to youth early on, while helping get them excited about eating a variety of fresh wholesome foods,” said Taylor. 

Since its launch, Kids 'N the Kitchen has implemented 189 lessons, reaching 11,368 children at 12 schools. 

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