It’s no secret that 13-year-old boys like to eat.
So when Cameron, a 13-year-old UnitedHealthcare Community Plan member from Natchez, talks about his experience in a weeklong 4-H Food Smart Families program this past summer, he’s eager to talk about his favorite foods. “My favorite recipe was the fruit cup,” he said. “It has strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and other fruits, then you can add milk and make a smoothie out of it,” he said. What was a surprise to Cameron was when he and his mother, Rechelle, were invited to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with other families and health educators at the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment (CHOPT) for Medicaid Meeting, which took place in October 2016. Cameron and Rechelle were invited to participate by CHOPT project staff who traveled to Mississippi to interview youth and families participating in the Food Smart Families program.
“The information he’s learning now will help him be ready to cook healthy snacks and meals for himself in the future.”
Cameron and Rechelle hadn’t traveled to Washington, D.C., or flown on a plane before. “It was my first time flying and I like to go fast, so it was really exciting,” said Cameron. Rechelle said she was nervous at first, but was able to relax a bit on the second leg of the flight. “I didn’t like it at first, I really didn’t, but after we switched planes in Atlanta, I started feeling better,” she said.
Both mother and son agree they had a great time in Washington, D.C. “We met with other families from other parts of the country to talk about healthy eating,” said Rechelle. Activities included educational sessions and brainstorming opportunities focused on making healthy choices, as well as fun family activities, like bowling.
Rechelle said she and Cameron learned a lot through the 4-H Food Smart Families program, which was created through a partnership between UnitedHealthcare and the National 4-H Council. “It’s changed the way we cook,” said Rechelle. “I’ve always cooked at home, but now instead of frying food, I try to bake, boil, broil or sauté food, and we eat more fruits and vegetables.” Rechelle says she and Cameron are also drinking much healthier beverages. “We learned to read nutrition labels and the instructors used sugar cubes to show just how much sugar there is in sodas and sports drinks,” she said. “Now we drink more fruit-flavored water, which tastes goodand is better for your body.”
“It’s changed the way we cook.”
Cameron said he also learned cooking skills he can use to prepare his own food. “I learned about using kitchen equipment, better ways to eat healthy and some easy snack recipes,” he said. While Rechelle is still doing most of the cooking at home, she says that what Cameron learned through Food Smart Families will come in handy. “The information he’s learning now will help him be ready to cook healthy snacks and meals for himself in the future,” she said.
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