Sumter youth are embracing healthy eating through a new initiative created by SC State University 1890 Research & Extension.
The SC State 1890 Extension Santee Wateree region is working with area youth organizations to host Kids in the Kitchen, a program designed to encourage healthy snack choices by providing health and nutrition education to young students. Kids in the Kitchen aligns with one of five of the public service organization's core program areas: family, nutrition and health.
"Many of the snacks eaten by children are laden with fat, sugar, sodium and preservatives. These ingredients, along with a sedentary lifestyle, often contribute to the increasing number of overweight and obese children. Kids in the Kitchen educates students on the types of foods they can eat by showing them how to prepare delicious and nutritious snacks. In doing so, we are teaching them personal responsibility of their own health," said Jasmine Davis, family, nutrition and health extension agent.
Since offering the program in February, Davis has met weekly with a partnering youth agency to teach participants about alternatives for snacks and meals. The elementary-age group made snacks such as fruit kabobs, while the middle/high school group prepared individual fruit cheesecakes.
"It's important for children to consume healthy meals and snacks to help students remain focused so that they can complete their schoolwork and have energy throughout the day," Davis said. "By providing basic knowledge of the food pyramid and discussing the benefits of consuming organic versus processed foods, we are able to do just that. The kinds of snacks we prepare are nutritious and delicious, and that's what our participants appreciate."
Formally known as the Williamsburg Cluster, the Santee-Wateree region moved its home office to Sumter in July 2020. Since its relocation, extension agents have implemented various programs to improve the quality of living for individuals and families in Clarendon, Lee, Sumter and Williamsburg counties.
In the future, Davis plans to connect with other community and youth organizations in the region and add activities such as gardening, meal preparation and health education intervention support.
For more information about Kids in the Kitchen and other programs offered by the Santee-Wateree region, contact Jasmine Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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