This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
We are already into our third week of summer break. One thing I really want to focus on with the kids this summer is cooking. I haven’t always been the best about having them help me in the kitchen to learn those important life skills. Now that they are home all the time, we’ve been able to meal plan together, shop the grocery ads, make shopping lists, and do the actual grocery shopping.
The kids having some ownership over what we eat makes the whole process much more pleasant. Even at 9 and 11, taking them to the grocery store is not my favorite thing. Now they take a much more active role and they are really building an appreciation for how much Mom does on a regular basis and how a healthy dinner does not just magically appear on a plate in front of them. I have seen their skills and confidence grow already. I’m hoping by the end of the summer I can completely turn the reigns over to them and have them each prepare a simple meal from scratch.
I’m doing what I can in my own household, but what about the community at large? Over 16 million children live in homes that are food insecure. We see a lot of that in Phoenix where I live. It’s not enough to just give these families food, although that does help. They need to be taught how to use those benefits to the fullest. Budgeting, shopping, and cooking are all skills that need to be taught.
4-H has a program called Food Smart Families that does just that. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare have been working together since 2011 and have delivered healthy living programs to more than 340,000 youth in 14 states. 4-H Food Smart Families creates more food secure homes by teaching meal planning, shopping, and healthy meal preparation on a budget.
They have a really smart way of doing it too! They are teaching teens and using a “Teens as Teachers” model for the youth to teach their peers and families good shopping and eating habits. This goes beyond just cooking on a budget, it also includes living a healthy lifestyle that includes being active and fit. Excuse the cliche, but the children are our future. It makes total sense to empower teens to not only be able to learn the skills the need to be a successful adult, but also the role of mentoring their families and peers.
4-H Food Smart Families is seeing some great results too! Here are some statistics from program participants.
- 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness
- 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together
- 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods
- 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options
My kids spent much of their life seeing my model poor behavior when it came to health, fitness, and eating habits. Thankfully I have changed my own life and have been able to show them how much better you feel when you eat healthfully and stay active. I’m really excited that 4-H Food Smart Families is available in Arizona and I can’t wait to see them expand and serve more states.
Don’t forget to check out the 4-H Food Smart Families website and see how you can get involved!