In response to high rates of obesity and related health problems among preschoolers who live in poverty, United Way of Passaic County, in partnership with the Turrell Fund and Children’s Day Nursery & Family Center, created the Nutrition Matters initiative in 2006.
New Jersey preschoolers rated as having 2nd highest obesity rate in the nation!
Currently, 18% of low-income preschool-age children in New Jersey are considered obese. Unhealthy habits such as over-consumption of sugar and salty foods; not getting recommended amounts of fruits & vegetables; and lack of exercise are increasingly common in young children. These behaviors increase the likelihood preschool-aged children will become have an unhealthy weight. This is of great concerns as overweight and obese preschoolers, are sick more often, and perform poorly in school. They are also at risk of experiencing chronic illnesses (i.e., diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol), and contending with a lower quality of life and health in adulthood.
Why focus on young children and parents?
Research shows that children in early childhood and care settings develop attitudes to nutrition and physical activity that persist into older childhood and adulthood. The Nutrition Matters initiative presents a tremendous opportunity to prevent obesity by providing education on healthy and active lifestyles for young children and their families.
Nutrition Matters Program goal and structure
The purpose of Nutrition Matters is to provide preschool children and their parents with valuable education about healthy lifestyles and hands-on experiences through classroom- and home-based activities. The children and their parents participate in nutrition education sessions, learning about topics such as smart grocery shopping, decoding food labels, healthy cooking, and age-appropriate physical activity for children and adults.
Click here for the Nutrition Matters Brochure
Volunteers are always needed to help support this program. Contact Uche Akobundu at (973) 279-8900 Ext. 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Conduct a Nutrition Book Drive!
Nutrition- and food-themed children's books are essential. They allow the nutition messages taught during the program to be reinforced both in and out of the classroom.
Nutrition Matters is part of a larger United Way of Passaic County effort to address hunger in the county. In February 2011 United Way of Passaic County was awarded a prestigious USDA Hunger-Free Communities grant. This $100,000 award is being used to study the causes of hunger in Passaic County and to develop a plan to achieve a hunger free community.