News Release
  May 19 , 2003


The children in Judy Richter's third grade class at Mayall Elementary School walk into the bungalow and immediately know what day it is.

"Umm, it smells good in here," says one boy. "What is it, banana bread?"
"I think it's fruit salad," says another.

It's Tuesday morning at Mayall, and that means that today's lesson will be taught not by Richter, but by students from Mission College in Sylmar. The subject is nutrition, specifically healthy snacks for children.

"We've seen such an increase in child obesity, adolescent diabetes and hypertension," said Jackie Berg, Mission College nutrition instructor. "There is a definite need to teach children that healthy meals can be fun and taste good at the same time."

Berg received a state grant to develop the course. Mission College students majoring in family/consumer studies and culinary arts are enrolled and, under Berg's guidance, prepare lesson plans and recipes featuring healthy food alternatives. Most of the recipes are taken from "Kids' First Cookbook," published by the American Cancer Society.

Today's class begins with a discussion about the various vitamin groups. Then the real fun begins, with the college students helping the third graders follow the recipe demonstrated at the start of class. Within minutes, the young students have taken pieces of lettuce, pasta, fruit, wheat bread and celery sticks and created sandwiches with faces. Alas, this "food art" doesn't last long, as the students soon munch on their own creations.

"These are kids who used to go home, turn on the TV and open a bag of cheese chips," said Richter. "Now they come in and tell me they taught their parents how to make healthy pizza, or smoothies - that's a favorite."

Berg hopes funding (from the statewide Collaborative for Family and Consumer Studies) will be renewed in order to continue the class in the fall.

# # #