S.N.A.C. helps families and kids to eat fresh and healthy
According to Elizabeth Kimball from Public Health – Seattle & King County, the key to teaching nutrition is to teach about the origin of food.
“When you’re teaching nutrition it’s very hard to talk about nutrition without talking about food – eating food, tasting food and preparing, storing and packing food — all the logistics and practical elements of eating,” Kimball said.
Kimball heads up Public Health’s Seattle Nutrition Action Consortium, or S.N.A.C. program.
“One of the hallmarks of S.N.A.C. is all of our various projects include cooking, which I think is very unique and important,” Kimball said.
S.N.A.C.’s mission is “to improve the health and nutritional well-being of limited income families with children in Seattle and King County. S.N.A.C. promotes the good taste of healthy food.”
S.N.A.C. provides a number of programs which include a cooking club, involvement at summer day camps, visits to food bank, tours and cooking demonstrations at farmers markets.
With these events and programs, S.N.A.C. hopes to make the entire food process more tangible for participating families.
“With modern day food being fast and convenient we like to bring food back to its roots and teach where food comes from,” Kimball said. “How much it takes to grow food and appreciate that whole process, and then talking about eating a variety of foods, cooking from scratch and eating at home are things that have gotten away from our culture and society.”
One of the events S.N.A.C. hosts is a “Family farmers market” for elementary school students in six schools within King County. The schools are chosen based off of the highest percentage of limited income families.
At the farmers market set up at their school, students are given play money and are able to go around the room and purchase fresh produce, donated by PCC Natural Markets.
“We partner with community agencies. One of our partners is PCC Natural Markets and they donate produce to each of ours schools so that we can create a farmers market on the school stage,” Kimball said. “We invite the kids and their families to come and shop using play money so that they have an experience of shopping on their own which is part of real life skills.”
However, the event encompasses more than just a farmers market. Nutrition education is offered around the school where classes teach how to make easy healthy choices in daily life. Community Health Services’ Access and Outreach program attends the event so that they can help people who qualify for food stamps enroll in the program. Additionally, this year, the Washington State Farmers Market Association did outreach about their new program, “fresh bucks,” which accepts food stamps and will match participant’s food dollars up to $10 per visit.
“We want people getting the access to food if they qualify for it, to give them more money so they can buy the fruits and vegetables they need,” Kimball said.
Kimball said events like the family farmer’s night not only educates people on health and nutrition, but also builds community.
“Food is a commonality between every living thing and it brings us all together. It’s a community builder if done the right way,” Kimball said.