Spotlight on Crystal J Momii
At Chefs for Kids, we know our programs would not be possible without the amazing teachers that help educate our students on the importance of nutrition. In this new series, we will be highlighting those who devote their time to furthering our cause and showcase all the incredible work they do. For our first spotlight we were able to catch up with educator Crystal Momii on her background, involvement with Chefs for Kids, and advice she has for parents.
Why are you involved with Chefs for Kids?
Crystal: I am humbled by the Chefs for Kids Foundation and team. They are tireless in their mission to feed children in our community. Whether it is at a school breakfast, Shade Tree at Christmas and Mother’s Day, or feeding the community during Las Vegas’s COVID 19 crisis. I am privileged to work with this amazing team of culinary/vendor individuals.
Why is it important to teach children about nutrition?
Crystal: Children need to learn early about nutrition as it is just as important as anything else we teach them. We teach them how important it is to keep clean, brush teeth, get enough sleep, physical activity and of course education. Long term health is a major part of our focus with Chef for Kids/Pick a better snack.
What advice do you have for parents that want to teach their children about nutrition outside of the classroom?
Crystal: I believe it is important to teach children to cook and prepare food early. I recommend planning meals, going to the store, following recipes, and preparing meals for the family. I have two sons, they are grown now but they still talk and laugh about meals they prepared growing up, some turned out to be legendary! Mainly during the summer months and vacations from school I would have my boys choose a meal to cook weekly. The meal had to include all five food groups, we planned the meals together, went to the store, discussed prices and how to buy and prepared the meals together. Over time they prepared meals on their own.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
Crystal: My favorite healthy snack is oatmeal. Now, don’t laugh! I never make an entire serving, maybe half a serving, add a little fruit (fresh or dried) and milk. Oatmeal with fruit is filled with wonderful nutrients, low in calories and it helps you stay satiated until your next meal and it is inexpensive.
What are some fun ways for children to learn about nutrition?
Crystal: The Chefs for Kids/Pick a better program encourages kids to try new fruits and vegetables. These precious children often do not have many choices in their lives much less with their food.
What are some good ways to get children engaged in the kitchen?
Crystal: Explain the food system process: how it grows, how it is harvested, how it is processed, how it gets to our store, then look at food a little differently. Talk about what the food does for our body to keep us healthy. I am a firm believer that children can influence other family members as well, whether it is food or physical activity.
What sort of impact do you want this program to have?
Crystal: We stress long term health for the entire family, kids often want to know what they can do to get their parents to eat healthy. GOOD FOR THEM!! I tell them YOU be the role model.
About Crystal Momii:
Crystal Momii was born and raised in Denver, CO and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a BA in Education. She started her career with the University of Nevada, Extension in 2001, and after 19 years she continues her work with the Health and Nutrition Department of the Clark County Extension and the Chefs for Kids Foundation. She considers herself privileged to work with an extraordinary team that educates young learners in the Clark County School District about the importance of nutrition and physical activity. In addition to her dedication to the mission of Chefs for Kids, Crystal is an avid audiobook listener. In fact, it is rare to see her without headphones in place when she is not teaching or working with her team.
National Nutrition Certification Program through the Utah State University Extension, Safe Routes to School, USDA Team Nutrition, Training tools for Healthy Schools, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and Peaceful playgrounds.