This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
This is an alarming statistic: Nearly 16 million children live in households that don’t have consistent access to food throughout the year. When reality hit and I realized what a serious issue this is, I wanted to help spread the word about the 4-H Food Smart Families program. What they are doing is pretty amazing, so please keep reading on!
We don’t usually think about this but having food in our cupboards and a refrigerator full of options is not reality for everyone. It may not be something you ever stop to think about but there are many families that don’t have enough food to eat. Not only that, they don’t have the skills to shop smart or create meals that are healthy on a low budget.
For the many youths and families that don’t have consistent access to food and healthy living, United Healthcare and 4-H partnered and formed the Food Smart Families Program. Together, they have been delivering healthy living programs to those in need. The partnership was established in 2011 and since that time, over 340,000 youths and their families across 14 states have received help. The 4-H Food Smart Families program teaches youths how to plan, shop, and prepare healthy meals on a budget. By 2020, the ultimate goal is to reach 250,000 kids and 650,000 family members. Wouldn’t it be an honor to be a part of a program that is doing such amazing things for people? I certainly think it is!
Something really unique about the 4-H Food Smart Families program is their teaching model. The program leverages the influence of young people by engaging teens, their families, and peers to help teach within the communities they are serving. I’m so excited about this because the program expanded in 2015 and Arizona is a state that offers the program. I’m encouraging my teen boys to get involved and my oldest has a strong interest. He enjoys teaching and has worked with students to mentor them with computer programming. At home, we’ve been working together to build healthier eating habits and we’ve been working at this for the past couple years. My 15 year old son has lost 30 pounds since we made lifestyle changes. This is not easy for a teen and he’s kept the weight off! We are growing fresh herbs and using them in cooking. We are also working on garden beds to grow our own vegetables (not an easy task in Phoenix, Arizona the scorching summer sun)!
There are over 400 youth trained to be “Teens as Teachers” and serve as role models and mentors to educate families how to cook smarter and shop better. One of the things that has made this program such a success is the proven influence that “Teens as Teachers” can have. Also, the program engages youth at a critical age for gaining skills and establishing behaviors that become sustainable and norms within their lives.
4-H Food Smart Families Making A Real Difference!
I’d like to share the positive changes 4-H Food Smart families have seen:
- 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness
- 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together
- 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods
- 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options
These are significant changes being experienced within communities. You can visit the 4-H Food Smart Family site and find out more information on how to get involved. To see how teen leaders are impacted and the amazing experience it is for them to be involved, here is a video about a teen leader from Lafayette, Louisiana.
Connect up with 4-H!
Do you cook together as a family and do your children have confidence in the kitchen? What are your thoughts on getting involved in the 4-H Food Smart Families program? I’d really love to hear your thoughts!