Home Healthy Eating Pace University, Ossining Partner to Promote Healthy Eating – Patch.com

Pace University, Ossining Partner to Promote Healthy Eating – Patch.com

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The Ossining School District’s Saturday Explore & Learn program includes a free breakfast, but not everyone arrives early to take part, and some just grab a few provisions and head to class.

That’s where the Pace University College of Health Professions comes in. As part of a partnership with the district, master’s degree students in nutrition and dietetics offer “Cooking with the Chef” taste-testing during the first half hour of Saturday Explore & Learn. They started during the winter session and will continue in the spring. They will also help with Ossining’s Summer Lunch Program.

The Pace students, who are studying for their master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, are seeking to boost breakfast participation and provide nutrition education. After surveying families during the first session, they opted to offer healthy snacks like popcorn, yogurt parfaits and apple slices with toppings, student Angela Iovine said. They also gave out recipe cards in English and Spanish and educational materials.

“We did notice that as the weeks went on, more families did stay and eat,” she said.

The Pace students’ taste-testing table has been a success, said Megan Mastrogiacomo, the district’s community schools leader. “They are taking the idea and running with it,” she said. “We welcome any organizations to join our Saturday Explore & Learn program.”

As part of their graduation requirements, the Pace College of Health Professions students are required to do supervised practice hours in various settings, said Jessica Tosto, clinical assistant professor and clinical coordinator, Nutrition and Dietetics, at Pace.

“The students are there really to just engage with the families, engage with the Ossining students,” Ms. Tosto said. “They’re talking about sugar content, getting them excited about eating different fruits and vegetables, and trying healthier snack options.”

For “Cooking with the Chef,” the graduates used food that was available through the breakfast program and supplemented it with some of their own ingredients.

The choices that Pace students gave children and families sparked conversations about healthy eating, Ms. Iovine said.

On the day they offered oatmeal with toppings, the Pace students showed how much sugar is in a serving sweetened oatmeal, sweetened cereals and Pop-Tarts. They spooned the exact amount of sugar into clear plastic containers that they placed next to the foods.

“When people can see it, we realized it’s a lot more impactful,” Ms. Iovine said. “We had a lot of parents saying they’re not going to be buying Pop-Tarts anymore.”

On yogurt parfait day, the dietitians-in-training showed families examples of some yogurts that have more sugar than Twix, Reese’s and Kit Kats. “They were shocked,” Ms. Iovine said.

On another Saturday, they offered apple slices in the shape of doughnuts with some toppings, such as granola, strawberries, raisins and, to add a little authenticity, rainbow sprinkles. They used vanilla yogurt as “vanilla frosting” and yogurt mixed with cocoa for “chocolate frosting.”

“They loved it and they kept saying, ‘This is so good,'” Ms. Iovine said of children and parents.

Rather than grab and go, the hope is that families will take the time to engage with Pace students, learn about nutrition, eat mindfully and engage with others from the community, Ms. Tosto said. “I think that’s really the ultimate goal is to bring the community together and really get them excited about eating healthy, especially at a young age,” she said.

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