More Teens Are "Going with the Grain" Thanks to Food Bank of South Jersey
Results from Food Bank of South Jersey’s Healthy Baking for Teens Program reveal new preferences for whole grain foods and improved nutrition awareness.
Health gains from whole grains! That’s the simple but life-changing message that the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) brought recently to at-risk adolescents through its Healthy Baking for Teens course, a 3-week nutrition instruction program conducted at Salem High School.
And in the end, the kids ate it up.
Healthy Baking for Teens teaches adolescents about the considerable nutritional benefits of whole grains, how they differ from refined grains, and how this exceptional class of foods can lead to better health. Students in the Salem High School program learned how to prepare a variety of breads, pizzas, and cookies using whole wheat flour, dried fruit, nuts, oat, corn, and reduced-fat dairy products.
Most impressively, a FBSJ report conducted at the end of the program showed that the students agreed unanimously that whole grains tasted better than the simple grains they were used to eating. 90 percent were able to identify whole grains properly from food labels; prior to the course, none of the students knew the difference between a whole grain and a refined one. 88 percent of the Healthy Baking for Teens class completed course graduation requirements, and all students expressed confidence in being able to share their new knowledge and talents at home by baking whole grain treats for family.
“We are delighted with the results from our Healthy Baking for Teens program at Salem High School, and are greatly encouraged to see how our basic education, mixed with a dash of classroom fun, has the power to change the eating habits of teenagers,” stated Tricia Yeo, a Dietetic Technician Registered and a coordinator for FBSJ’s Healthy Living Initiative program. “Their new preferences for whole grain foods and their new nutrition awareness have life-long benefits.”
From Classroom to the Home Front
Students participating in Healthy Baking for Teens were part of Salem High School’s Youth Connect, a county-sponsored program that stresses life-skills development for teens considered at high-risk. One of those students, 16-year-old Midestinee Snyder, has already begun transferring the classroom nutrition lessons to her home, where she has baked several of the snacks taught to her in Healthy Baking for Teens.
“I have made sweet potato bites as well as granola bars for my family,” said Snyder, “and they really enjoyed them. The Healthy Baking course was definitely useful. It helped me think about food in a different way.”
Val Traore, CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, cannot be happier with the results. “This is great news for the Food Bank as well as for the students of Salem High and their families. We are hoping more schools throughout the region take up the challenge to help children make wiser food choices through these informative and transformative programs!”
Healthy Baking for Teens is part of Food Bank of South Jersey’s Healthy Living Initiative, a series of cooking and education classes that teach food-insecure adults and children how to prepare easy, nutrient-dense meals from budget-friendly grocery items and foods typically supplied through FBSJ’s network of 250 food pantry and meal partner agencies.