Making nutrition fun

OSSINEKE – Sanborn Elementary School students participated in a day of learning about nutrition at the Ossineke United Methodist Church Tuesday morning. The program is called Nourish and Flourish Ossineke, and is a joint effort between volunteer members of the church and community, and the elementary.

“We are providing healthy nutrition information to the students in fun-filled, hands-on events at the church,” project director Kathy Maynard said. “Students learn how to make a healthy snack, the importance of washing fruits and produce and which foods are better to eat more often then others.”

Students played a game with nutritionist Judy MacNeill, MS, RD, by playing a relay race with examples of food that can be consumed everyday, sometimes and occasionally. This game stressed the importance of food that helps children and adults grow and stay strong, compared to the foods that are mostly good for nutrition, and foods that should only be consumed occasionally.

“It’s important for children to learn about food choices because they are influential in how much of what they want to eat,” MacNeill said. “Children tend to be food phobic, and the more you introduce them to good foods, the more likely they will be to try them. Playing games is a great way to help them learn about what is good for them, and makes them more likely to eat healthy. Childhood obesity has tripled or more, and has become an epidemic with some startling health implications on children, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and very high blood pressure.”

MacNeill said it helps for parents to eat healthy with their children and play games involving reasons why the food is good and how it helps them be strong and grow.

The Nourish and Flourish program is run by community volunteers and members of the Ossineke United Methodist Church, and the program is funded by foundation grants and local, corporate and church donations.

In a similar event in November, children learned about hand-washing techniques, how to make nutritious smoothies, and did an artistic project about healthy food choices, food groups and portioning.

“This is a great opportunity for our school to be with community members and learn about nutrition, which is very important,” principal Jean Kowalski said. “They really enjoy coming here and learning something while having fun.”

The event Tuesday was just for students, but an additional event will be held Feb. 17 at the church for students and parents to attend free.

“Tuesdays event is followed up a week later with an event for parents and families of the students which includes a free meal, healthy nutrition information and demonstrations similar to the ones the students enjoyed,” Maynard said. “The parent event will also include a snack preparation and the relay race, along with gas card and food giveaways. There will be childcare and help with transportation available.”

Parents will receive more information about the event in their student Friday folders from the school, and should RSVP for the event by Feb. 17. by calling 471-2334 or 727-3677.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.