“Kids In the Kitchen” Nutritional Focus Complements VT Fit & Healthy Kids Initiative

DATE: April 28, 2006
Contact: Communication Office

ESSEX JUNCTION – Chef Rick Gencarelli, of Shelburne Farms, can cook epicurean creations designed to please even the stingiest gastronome. Feeding his two preschool children is a different story.

“I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old and I struggle to feed them healthy food every day,” Gencarelli said. “It is a constant challenge. It’s not as difficult when they are younger, but as soon as you let them out of the house to daycare and school, they get exposed to other things. The sooner you can influence them about healthy eating – the better.”

Gencarelli will give a free cooking class during the Champlain Valley Junior Service League “Kids In the Kitchen – Eat Well and Stay Healthy” event on April 29, 1 p.m. at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds Demonstration Kitchen in Essex Junction. The event is designed to educate young children about the importance of healthy eating in an effort to counter poor nutritional choices that contribute to childhood obesity.

Participants, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, will rotate through eight stations and make snacks from a broad selection of healthy foods. A community approach that brings together celebrity chefs, parents, adolescents and children is an effective way to promote healthy lifestyle choices, according to Janet Wiatrowski, R.N., a public health nursing supervisor with the Vermont Department of Health.

“Twenty-six percent of Vermont children in grades eight through twelve are overweight for their age and height,” Wiatrowski said. “This event is one good way to counter, and maybe begin to reverse those alarming statistics. This is a serious problem that will require a comprehensive approach, and it is never too early to start to educate our kids. Obesity increases the prevalence for at least 15 chronic diseases, including: Type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.”

“Kids In the Kitchen” provides strong support for the Fit & Healthy Kids Initiative, developed in 2003 by Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas in an effort to address the problem of childhood obesity. Kristen Ballou, a public health nutritionist with the Vermont Department of Health, will also be available to offer advice and expertise on how to promote better nutritional choices for kids.

For more information on the event or “Kids In the Kitchen,” call Wiatrowski at 951-0063 or visit www.kidsinthekitchen.ajli.org.


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