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Spotlight on Lashuna Proctor

Anatole France once said, “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.” Somebody that completely embodies this statement is the wonderful Lashuna Proctor. Ms.Proctor is one of our passionate educators that devote her time to encouraging children to practice a healthy lifestyle through education. For our Spotlight Series, we were able to interview Lashuna and get to know her better as well as find out why she decided to get involved with Chefs for Kids. 

Please tell us about yourself.

Lashuna: I am a mother of 3 children, and I am a grandmother as well.  I have worked with children in different capacities for several years and I enjoy making a positive impact in their lives.  I do not have a degree in nutrition, although I have participated in different professional development classes and earned certificates in food safety, food allergies, strategies for marketing summer food programs, etc. 

Why are you involved with Chefs for Kids?

Lashuna: I started with the Chef for Kids Program back in August of 2012 as an Emergency Hire through the University of Nevada Reno, Extension.  I progressed and was hired full-time in November 2012. I enjoy working with elementary students in the Clark County School District and I have a heart for children as I understand their needs are great especially in the area of nutrition.

Why is it important to teach children about nutrition? 

Lashuna: Children learn best by example and by teaching healthy ways to eat and be active will strengthen the younger generation to attain habits that will last a lifetime. Children are also good teachers and once they learn good nutrition, they can pass it onto younger siblings and other family members. 

What advice do you have for parents that want to teach their children about nutrition outside of the classroom? 

Lashuna: First, I would ask that parents listen to their children. For the CFK program, we include literature such as family/parent handouts which offers parents an opportunity to explore recipes with fruits and vegetables. It displays when fruits/vegetables are in season, cost and other nutrition resources. I would encourage parents to offer fruits and vegetables throughout the week to their children and while they are trying new foods, parents should be an example and try new foods as well. Make it a family affair!

What are some fun ways for children to learn about nutrition?

Lashuna: I have discovered that an excellent website is www.choosemyplate.gov. This site offers very resourceful information about the 5 food groups. It explores games and other fun activities to spark a child’s interest in eating healthy and being active daily. At times during my instruction, one of the ways I’ve instilled learning nutrition is through games.  This is a game generation and children react in a positive way toward it!

What are some good ways to get children engaged in the kitchen?

Lashuna: Some good ways are to introduce them to the kitchen.  It is good to show them cooking utensils, different appliances and their purpose. It is also good to invite them to cook with you in the kitchen. It teaches them some responsibility and helps them become familiar with it.

What sort of impact do you want this program to have? 

Lashuna: I have seen a very positive impact with the CFK program already and I hope it continues to do just that for our kids. I hope that through this program even more kids will be impacted by eating nutritious breakfasts (CFK Breakfast) and that the communities and families that are served realize their significance to the endeavors of the Chefs, instructors, community, etc. 

What is your favorite healthy snack? 

Lashuna: I love fruit so a bowl of fruit (watermelon, pears, strawberries, blueberries, bananas).

Give us your favorite healthy recipe. 

Lashuna: I love smoothies! 

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup of almond milk or apple juice
  • ¼ cup of frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup of frozen strawberries
  • ½ of a frozen banana
  • Handful of frozen spinach

Instructions:

  1. In a blender pour in almond milk/apple juice.
  2. Pour in blueberries, strawberries, banana and spinach. 
  3. Mix well and pour into a cup. Yummy!

Anything else you want to add?

Lashuna: I would like to add some anecdotes of my personal experience with teaching for the CFK Program. 

I remember when teaching at one of my schools and the challenge I sometimes face is a language barrier.  I had a student of Hispanic ethnicity at Fitzgerald Elementary and he participated in class often, which another student interpreted for me.  At the end of the school I would always ask review questions to see how well my students remembered the nutrition lessons.  To my surprise my student was now speaking English and he understood my questions!  I was so excited!  My goal to instill healthy information for my students to take away and I was happy that the language barrier did not hinder in the end!  The CFK program is a great asset to children all races and ethnicities.

Another story I would like to share is regarding an open house I had at one of my schools Sunrise Acres Elementary.  I put up a table to give out information about our nutrition program and talk to parents about how I would be visiting the second/third-grade classrooms, once a month.  I had some feedback from students that I taught years prior.  One of the former Hispanic students came by my table and spoke to me.  I didn’t remember his name, although his face was very familiar.  He said, “I remember you, Ms. Proctor,” I ask how do you know me?  He said, “You taught me about health and nutrition a couple of years back.  I said, ‘wow, what grade are you in now?’  He said 7th.  It brings great joy not only to teach younger kids but for students to come back and remind you of what they remember while moving to a higher-grade level.  What you put on the heart of a child, will impact them.  Whether negative or positive.  I choose to instill the positive!  Thanks! 

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