School children from after school programs in Chapel Hill and Carrboro are taking home more than spelling lists and math sheets this fall. Carrboro-based nonprofit TABLE is sending them home with “healthy homework” – snack recipes and fresh food sourced from local farms through Farmer Foodshare.
It’s a way to connect local farms with families who don’t have access to healthy food.
“In North Carolina, two thirds of all adults are overweight or obese. North Carolina ranks fifth worst in the country for childhood obesity and first in the country for childhood food insecurity for children under five years of age,” said Molly De Marco, a researcher with UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. “Combating hunger and obesity takes involvement from the entire family. This unique program encourages healthy eating year round, strengthens the local food system and provides families with a fun way to improve their health.”
This month, volunteers from TABLE brought fresh ingredients from local farms to the center and showed the kids how to make Striped Rollups with green peppers, arugula, cheese and tortillas. After watching the demonstration, the children made Striped Rollups themselves, and then took home the ingredients and “know-how” needed to prepare the snack for their families.
“I can’t wait to show this snack to my mom,” said one of the fourth graders at The Hargraves Center afterschool program. “She loves peppers!” The snack program, TABLE for Two, sends trained UNC-Chapel Hill students to low-income after-school programs in Orange County. TABLE focuses exclusively on local childhood hunger, distributing healthy food to Chapel Hill-Carrboro children each week, as well as providing UNC student mentors to encourage kids to make healthy eating choices.
“We hope these special snack sessions will grow kids’ familiarity with fresh produce and teach them what is available right in their own area,” said Joy MacVane, TABLE’s executive director. “TABLE helps children grow and thrive. This after school snack program empowers kids to teach their families to make healthy food choices.”
Kids Lead the Way
The fresh snack training program is based on an embedded learning model in which students watch something, do it on their own, and then teach another what they learned. In TABLE for Two, children watch their mentors make snacks from locally grown produce and then prepare the snack on their own. After the program, children are sent home with fresh ingredients from local farms to make and share the snack with their families.
“It’s so much fun watching the kids get excited about fresh and healthy food,” said Ashton Chatham, Program Director at TABLE. “You always hear that kids don’t like fresh vegetables. We sure don’t see that here! They really get into the snacks and they love the fresh food we give them each week.”
The Farmer Foodshare connection
TABLE receives fresh produce from local North Carolina farmers through a partnership with nonprofit Farmer Foodshare. The organization links farm-grown food to growing children through its Farm to Children program. Farmers from Carrboro Farmers Market provide TABLE with weekly donations of gleaned fresh produce as well as discounted produce specifically for snacks.
“We are delighted to support this innovative program,” said Margaret Gifford, Founder and Executive Director of Farmer Foodshare. “TABLE understands how children learn about food and they know the power that healthy food can have in transforming children’s lives.”
“Healthy Homework” is part of the Table for Two Healthy Eating Program, one of several hunger relief programs sponsored by TABLE.
TABLE is a non-profit hunger-relief organization focusing exclusively on local childhood hunger. Each week, TABLE puts healthy food, including farm fresh produce, directly into the hands of Chapel Hill and Carrboro elementary school-age children who would otherwise go hungry on weekends and other times of the year when free school meals are unavailable. It brings together UNC students and community members to provide food to local hungry kids and raise awareness of local childhood hunger. During the 2011/2012 school year, TABLE sent home more than 45,000 pounds of food to hungry Chapel Hill-Carrboro children. Please visit www.tablenc.org or email email@example.com for more information.