There’s a concerted effort to make sure Syracuse’s school children eat healthy and stay active during the summer. The Onondaga County Health Department, Syracuse City School District, and the Southwest Community Center teamed up today for their Summer 2017 Heritage Health Kick event. Children were fed a healthy lunch, and Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta taught the children about the long-term affects of an unhealthy diet.
“People end up having problems with weight, blood pressure or their heart. In 10 to 15, we start to have what we call health problems. We don't want that, do you?" Gupta asked.
"Noooo!" the children said.
"Right!” Gupta affirmed.
CEO of Syracuse Community Connections at Southwest Sharon Owens says obesity is the most prominent issue facing the 200 kids they feed at each event. She says obesity can be combated by community based organizations coming together and making sure children have enough healthy meals.
“We introduced smoothies to them. They were fine with strawberries and bananas in the smoothies. But when you put the kale and the spinach in there, they were like, 'what are you doing?' But now when you bring out the smoothie tray, they're all over it. So if you introduce it to them, it becomes a part of their daily habit, and that's the important thing.”
Owens says it could be a way to get kids away from high-calorie, high fat, high sugar foods. Syracuse City Schools Director of Food Nutrition Services Rachel Murphy says their goal is to have well-nourished kids. She says these events help ensure children are getting the nutrients they may not otherwise receive.
“In Syracuse, we have a very severe need for children to be nourished on a regular basis because we have a very high amount of poverty. When we have high amounts of poverty, one of the things that gets challenge is what is put on the table. In some cases children do not receive any meals that are balanced and wholesome at home simply because they can’t get them.”
Murphy says the 50 feeding sites across the City help address the hunger issue on a larger scale.