March 13, 2007
Bronson Launches Program To Battle Childhood Obesity
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is launching a spring program aimed at combating childhood obesity, an increasing health concern among young people. What better way to tackle the problem than to teach kids how to prepare their own healthful snacks.
Bronson is kicking off the third annual “Xtreme Cuisine Cooking School” in March and classes will continue until April to coincide with the end of the school year.
“Students on summer break often have more leisure time and less adult supervision than they do during the school year,” Bronson said. “Consequently, they will choose many of their own meals and snacks. If these snacks are low in nutrition and fiber -- and high in salt, sugar, and fats -- they can contribute to the growing problem of childhood obesity. We want our children to learn healthful alternatives that will continue into adulthood.”
“Xtreme Cuisine Cooking School” teaches Florida students how to make their own healthy snacks using “Fresh from Florida” fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and other nourishing recipe ingredients.
Classes are being held at middle schools in Pinellas Park, Miami, Ocala and Tallahassee. In Tallahassee, a class will be held on March 14 at Florida High Middle School. Award-winning Executive Chef Justin Timineri will teach students the basics of food preparation and cooking procedures while creating fruit parfaits, whole-wheat pizzas, and other easy-to-prepare snacks.
Students learn how the Florida fruit and vegetables used in these recipes provide vitamins and minerals that can help prevent heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. In addition, students learn the dangers caused by excessive amounts of salt, sugar and fats in their diet, and how fiber could eliminate their desire for high-calorie, low-nutrition snack foods. Each “Xtreme Cuisine” curriculum packet contains four original recipes with nutritional breakdowns.
By the end of each session, students learn the daily requirements for calories, fruits and vegetables. They also learn the basic food groups. Each student receives a copy of the “Fresh from Florida Kids’ Kitchen” cookbook, which outlines many cooking basics. Students also receive “Xtreme Cuisine” certificates attesting to their skill in the preparation of healthy snacks.
“We hope that once these young people learn this vital information, they can pass it on to their friends and even family members,” Bronson said. “We have to take steps early to ensure they make good food choices throughout their lifetime.”