At the fifth TEAM Nutrition Summer Institute participants came with ideas and left with action plans.
Twenty-five school professionals—principals, teachers, food service professionals and nurses—from the state and the region attended this year’s two-week institute. Fifty-five participants attended an expansion program or series of workshops.
Claudette Bayko, a school nurse in two elementary schools in East Rochester, N.H., learned about the “Team Nutrition Summer Institute” from a previous participant, Susan Kelly. “During recess, she and her students walked around ‘New Hampshire’ without leaving the playground,” recalls Bayko.
The institute, now in its fifth year, is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiative that provides training and materials to encourage educators to introduce new nutrition and physical activity programs into their schools and communities. It is the only one of its kind in the U.S. and is cosponsored by UNH Cooperative Extension and Department of Health Management and Policy.
A highlight of the institute was “New Hampshire Celebrates TEAM Nutrition Day.” Speakers included Ron Vogel, deputy director of the USDA’s Food Nutrition Service; Barbara Moore, of “Shape Up America!”; Miss America 2001 Angela Perez Baraquio; and Vicki James, of Cooking Light magazine. On the last day of the institute, Charlene Burgeson, of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was the closing speaker. All events were free and open to the public.
Type 2 Diabetes, an Epidemic
All of the speakers emphasized that one critical indicator of poor health nationally is the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
It is an epidemic, Vogel pointed out, a serious problem that, “like global warming,” is one on which it is “hard to mobilize people.”
According to Moore, more than 16 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and an estimated 14 million suffer from type 2 diabetes. Once thought to be a disease of “maturity onset” type 2 diabetes now occurs in children as young as eight years old.
The rub? This kind of diabetes is often preventable through good nutrition and exercise.
Burgeson, reported on the Surgeon General’s new guidelines for physical activity: 30 minutes of moderate activity per day for adults; children, however, need more—30 to 60 minutes at least, but even better, up to a couple or several continuous hours.
To promote the Surgeon General’s new guidelines, Burgeson said the CDC, with Congressional funding, plans to launch a $125 million media campaign this spring.
Teamwork and Action Plans
Throughout the institute, participants attended workshops on topics such as the classroom/cafeteria connection, personal fitness, nutrition analysis, family fitness programs, teamwork, and school policy.
Tamara Martin, research assistant professor in health management and policy, codirected the institute with Valerie Long, extension specialist in UNH’s Department of Animal and Nutritional Sciences.
“For many, this institute is a life altering experience,” said Martin. “We emphasize that they need to find at least one other person in their organization with whom to work. Change happens with teamwork. Our program is about building networks.”
Martin cited the work of Sheila O’Donnell, who attended the institute in 2000. “Sheila is the food service director at Hollis-Brookline High School. They now have a fitness room. Their school menu—even what’s available in their vending machines—has changed.”
Each participant developed an action plan. Some of their goals were:
- negotiating policy changes to get fruit juices and water into the vending machines at schools;
- making low-fat milk a beverage option at school lunch;
- initiating a five-a-day (fruits and vegetables) program with sixth graders and combining it with their math lesson.
At the end of the institute, Bayko’s enthusiasm was typical. “I’d like to include a nutrition and fitness curriculum in a program we run for special needs students,” she said. “I’d also like to investigate offering better nutritional cereal options. And, I’d like to do a presentation to the PTA on the benefits of a walking program.”
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