Southern Mom Loves: Why I Love 4-H & the Food Smart Families Program

Why I Love 4-H & the Food Smart Families Program

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I've always been a big believer in balanced eating. I grew up with a mother who loved cooking and fresh, healthy foods and while I didn't really appreciate being the only kid in the lunchroom without soda, potato chips, or candy, I fully appreciate it as an adult and I've tried to pass that mindfulness down to my kids. When I drool over an heirloom tomato sandwich, my daughter can't wait to try it. When I'm cooking with a new food, my son always comes up with suggestions for delicious flavor combinations. They're interested, and that's a good thing.

Growing up in a big city, I never really knew what 4-H was about. I only ever heard of them at fairs and I just assumed it was about raising livestock. We moved about an hour away to a small city almost 8 years ago and I've struggled to find things for the kids to do ever since. We usually ended up driving back to our previous home to visit the different museums and the zoo.

My family was introduced to 4-H through my daughter's elementary school last year and I was blown away by the programs and events that they offer kids and families. I wish I had found them years ago! I immediately signed my daughter up for fun events like Kids' Night Out (read: Parents Night Off, lol), she took sewing classes (that's the apron she made!) and both of the kids are doing summer camps through 4-H and they love it!

I love that 4-H is all about family, growing healthy kids, and encouraging service. Another way they're doing that is through the Food Smart Families program.

Did you know that nearly 16 million children live in households that are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to food throughout the year? 4-H Food Smart Families is working to create more food secure homes by teaching families how to plan, shop and prepare healthy meals on a budget.

With the high expense of food and so many of us on tight budgets, I believe that it's a skill that is vital for today's families. 

Since 2011, UnitedHealthcare and 4-H have partnered together to deliver healthy living programs to more than 340,000 youth and their families in 14 states and they do that primarily through the “Teens as Teachers” model.

4-H leverages the proven influence of young people by engaging teens to empower their peers and families to help establish life-long healthy habits. More than 400 youth trained to be Teens as Teachers serve as role models and mentors, educating younger youth and empowering their parents and families to shop better and cook smarter. 

Check out this video to see how Food Smart Families is impacting teen leaders.

The program engages youth at a critical age for gaining skills and establishing behaviors that become sustainable, healthy habits. There have been so many positive changes in youth behavior as a result of 4‑H Food Smart Families:

  • 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness
  • 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together
  • 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods
  • 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options

It takes education and encouragement to build those healthy habits, but the payoff can last for generations.

Find out more about the 4-H Food Smart Families program here. You can get curriculum and education kits, find your local 4-H, and learn how to get involved, too.

You can also find 4-H on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Find out more about their programs and what's happening right now.

Have you ever been involved with any 4-H programs? What do you think about the Food Smart Families program? I love to read your comments!

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