GREENVILLE – Whether it’s sitting around a dinner table, or feasting at a public gathering, food is something people of all cultures have in common. To help some local parents learn how to prepare quick and easy dishes and snacks, students from two Clemson Creative Inquiry groups collaborated to share healthy eating tips with students and parents at Monaview Elementary School.
The students belong to the Culinary Nutrition and the Physical Activity Promotion and Research Creative Inquiry projects. They met with about 100 Elementary School students and parents during a Family Night event recently held at the school. Most of the 600 students who attend Monaview Elementary are Hispanic and speak both English and Spanish. Many of their parents speak and understand just Spanish. To overcome the language barrier, the Clemson students presented their Cooking with a Chef information in both English and Spanish.
“It was interesting presenting in dual languages,” said Kyle White, a senior Language and International Health major from Lexington and a member of the Physical Activity and Research CI team. “It took some extra preparation to be sure we could get the message across to everyone who attended.”
When communicating with Hispanic or Latino audiences of teenagers and adults, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest using both Spanish and English. In addition to verbally giving the presentation in both English and Spanish, the students created two Powerpoint presentations – one in English and one in Spanish. The presentations were shown concurrently on two different screens.
Catherine Harvey, a master’s degree student in Food, Nutrition and Culinary sciences from Greer who is a member of the Culinary Nutrition CI team, said it was nice to be able to “lift the language differences” and communicate with people from another culture.
“It was really great to see the crowd’s reaction to what we were saying and for them to ask questions about different ingredients,” Harvey said. “Understanding people coming from other cultures can allow us to more effectively spread nutrition education that is relevant to their lives.”
Angie Castillo, a sophomore Food Science major from Easley, is one of the students who helped with the English to Spanish translations.
“I was so happy to be able to collaborate with the other class, with children and parents in our community and to have contact with people of my race,” said Castillo who is mostly Mexican. “I felt like the moms were like all my aunts and I had a close relationship to them.”
Maria Perez and Yesenia Garcia are two mothers who attended the Family Night activity. Neither woman speaks English and were happy to see the information provided in both English and Spanish. Charly Bautista, a 9-year-old third grade student, helped translate for the mothers.
“I always try to cook healthy food for my family, but I wanted to learn how to cook quick, simple meals and snacks,” Perez said.
“We also wanted to learn more about the MyPlate program,” said Garcia, as she held a handout with information about the www.ChooseMyPlate.gov program.
Students from the Culinary Nutrition CI project were invited to the Family Night event by students in the Physical Activity Promotion and Research CI project. Marge Condrasky, a professor in the Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences Department leads the Culinary Nutrition CI project. Students in the Physical Activity Promotion and Research CI team are led by Karen Kemper, an associate professor in the Department of Public Health. The Physical Activity CI team, has been working with Monaview Elementary students as part of an after-school program which focuses on nutrition and physical activity. The idea to combine the two Creative Inquiry groups came after the Culinary and Nutrition CI students attended a health fair at the elementary school during the spring.
“We wanted parents to be aware of the tools that their children are being taught so that they can help implement some of these methods within their homes,” said Ellen Johnson, a sophomore Language and International Health student from Charlotte, N.C. and a member of the Physical Activity CI team
The Monaview Elementary program is funded in part by a grant (Grant No. 2011790) the school received from 21stCentury Community Learning Center. Through this grant, Kemper and Brian Helsel, a doctoral student, helped the Clemson students develop 16 health lessons, implement two health fairs and collect survey data on 36 families about family nutrition and physical activity practices as well as diabetes risk. In addition to the health lessons and activities such as Cooking with the Chef, a bike safety curriculum developed by the Greenville Hospital System will be added this year.
“We believe that nutrition is an important concept for these families to make them realize that healthy eating does not always mean breaking your wallet,” Johnson said. “Several months ago, the Body Mass Index (BMI) data from the after-school students revealed that well over 50 percent of the students were already overweight. Healthy nutrition practices can help prevent these trends from becoming worse.”
Janice Sargent, director of after school programs at Monaview Elementary, applauded the program and the Family Night presentation.
“This is all wonderful information,” Sargent said. “It will be great if we can get the parents to prepare the recipes and apply information they were given so that they can provide their families with more healthy meals.”
In addition to Castillo and Harvey, other members of the Culinary Creative Inquiry team are: Amber Martinez, a senior food science and technology major from Pembroke Pines, Florida; Amy Grace Funcik, a senior food science and human nutrition major from Charleston; Carly Duffy, a senior food science and human nutrition major from Charleston; Genna Pesce, a senior food science and human nutrition major from Howell, New Jersey; and Ashley Garwatoski, a sophomore food science major from Apex, North Carolina.
Joining Johnson and White on the Physical Activity Promotion and Research Creative Inquiry team are: Shellie Davis, a junior health sciences major from Batesburg/Leesville; Lucy Devaney, a sophomore language and international health student from Georgia; Brian Helsel, a doctoral applied health research and evaluation student, from Greenville; Violet Kryshak, a junior health sciences student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Adrina Patterson, a senior language and international health student from Columbia; Nia Pressely, a senior health sciences student, and Rachel Reid, a health sciences major, both from Blythewood; and Kathryn Rusher, a junior language and international health student Salisbury, North Carolina.
Try this recipe from the students’ presentation!
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