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From Classroom to Community: Taking Healthy Eating to the Streets

November 17, 2023

A man and a small child exchange a token for a fresh vegetable at an indoor farmers market.

Chefs for Kids President Vic Vegas and our partner nutrition educators at University of Nevada, Reno Extension recently got out of the school and into the community to host a special farmers market and nutrition education class for disadvantaged youth. This was part of an expansion of our Holiday Helpings program, providing grocery store gift cards and nutritional pamphlets to more families in need.

To do this, we partnered with Nevada Youth Network which works in partnership with the Southern Nevada Housing Authority to provide homework tutoring and extracurricular activities to the young residents of Sherman Gardens Annex. Twenty-four students gathered at Nevada Youth Network where UNR Extension educators led a class emphasizing the significance of maintaining a healthy diet. They delved into discussions about the origins of fruits and vegetables, providing valuable insights into the sources and nutritional benefits of these essential food groups. 

As Chef Vic entered the room to listen in on the class you could see kids get excited and a small group excitedly whispered to each other “It’s Maui.” If you’re not familiar with children’s movies from the past decade, Maui is the affable demi-god from the movie Moana. It was an unexpected but cute connection point for the kids.

After the class, kids were invited to participate in a farmers market where they were given a reusable grocery bag, cookbook, and two tokens which they could redeem for one fruit and one vegetable each. On the table were pomegranates, pears, yellow squash, and broccoli. The students had fun talking to the educators and interacting with Chef Vic to learn about each produce item while making their selections. As they approached the vegetable stand  Chef Vic would say you can choose yellow squash which is rich in nutrients or broccoli which helps with muscle growth. Well you can imagine which vegetable most of the boys picked. 

Interactions like these go to show you that it’s not always just about providing access to education and putting food in stomachs. It’s also about creating a bond with the students.

Seeing a cool chef like Vic Vegas who is not only Corporate Executive Chef at Nicholas & Company, a Celebrity Chef on Bar Rescue, and possibly Maui 😉, telling them they should eat fruits and vegetables goes a long way in influencing them to actually do so. 

Through engaging activities and informative sessions such as these, we aim to instill a deeper understanding of the connection between a balanced diet and overall well-being, and instill healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

Alone we can only do so much though. We need your financial support to help us continue this good work. This visit was just the first of what we hope will be many in the future. Consider making a donation in honor of Giving Tuesday and be a Healthy Eating Hero, providing more healthy snacking opportunities to food-insecure children.

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