By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Children at Engelhard Elementary learned the importance of healthy eating and physical activity last week from Sacred Heart Academy students.
Sacred Heart senior Lizzie Klem organized and hosted the Moving and Munching Camp at Engelhard June 10 to 14 for students that are entering the third-, fourth- and fifth-grades.
The purpose of the camp, Klem said, is to teach the kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle which includes eating properly and exercising.
“We’ve taught them how to make fun, easy snacks that are easy to remember, something they can do with their hands,” she said during the camp June 12.
Engelhard is located on First Street between West St. Catherine and Kentucky streets. Klem said she first visited the area during her junior year retreat. The Sacred Heart students volunteered at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Open Hand Soup Kitchen on Jackson Street and visited the St. Jude Women’s Recovery Center located on East St. Catherine Street.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” Klem said, noting the poverty she encountered there. “I had never been exposed to this kind of thing. I think it’s something that more (people) need to be aware of.”
One of Klem’s goals with the camp was to show the kids that eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive.
“I know for a lot of these kids money is tight so I wanted to teach them how to make snacks that are affordable,” she said.
She consulted Nancy Russman, a local chef who teaches at-risk kids and their families about healthy eating habits. Russman helped her develop recipes that would include inexpensive ingredients that were easy to obtain.
Some of the snacks the kids learned to make were “Banana Boats,” which include bananas cut in half with peanut butter and sun flower seeds on top and “Yum Yum Dip” which includes yogurt, cinnamon and honey.
Instead of talking about food pyramids and food groups, Klem taught the kids about “eating your colors.”
“It’s something that will stick with them. They know by eating bright colors they are getting fruits and vegetables,” she explained.
Klem encouraged the children to include different colors of food on their plates at each meal. For example, white for chicken or starches; red for apples or peppers; and green for salad or cucumbers.
Teresa Meyer, principal of Engelhard and Klem’s aunt, said the free camp was a great thing for the kids at her school. She noted that most of her students couldn’t afford to attend summer camps.
Another important component of the camp was to encourage the children to exercise. Klem wanted to show the kids that exercise can be fun. They played Capture the Flag and tag, jumped rope and had a limbo contest.
“To get exercise you don’t have to go running. You can jump rope or play kickball with your friends,” she said.
The campers also learned about table manners, including how to set a table and the importance of hand washing.
Jacob Minor, who will be a fifth-grader at the school this fall, said he was excited about the “awesome home-made snacks” he learned to make.
Chloe Matute said she enjoyed the camp, especially the obstacle course, and learned about the importance of the food she eats.
“I learned about choosing the right foods and to choose different colors, not to eat everything the same color,” said Chloe, who will be a fifth-grader too.
Klem, whose family attends Holy Trinity Church, said her interest in nutrition stemmed from her involvement in sports. She has played basketball and soccer at Sacred Heart and said she began to notice that the food she put in her body affected the way she performed.
Klem said she and her mother Beth have been talking about the idea of a nutrition camp for a couple of years. She said she had heard many kids depend upon Blessings in a Backpack, a charity that provides food for children to take home during the school year.
“It hit me that they don’t get that in the summer,” she said.
According to a new study conducted by Feed America, a hunger relief organization, 225,000 children in Kentucky don’t always know where they will find their next meal. The study says that in all, 17 percent of Kentucky’s population struggles with hunger.
In order to help with this problem, Klem organized a food drive earlier this spring at Sacred Heart. At the end of the camp, participants were sent home with a grocery bag full of food including pasta and canned fruits and vegetables.
The children also received a packet of the recipes they learned during the week with step by step instructions and hand-drawn pictures.
To cover the cost of food and supplies for the camp, Klem contacted local business to ask for donations. She received assistance from the Sacred Heart Parents Association, Creation Garden, Masterson’s Catering, Costco, Kroger, Murray Productions and several private donations.
“Everyone says that it’s hard to eat healthy but with these snacks it can be easy. It’s easy to go to McDonald’s and get fries and a cheeseburger. But putting peanut butter and raisins on a rice cake is easy too.
“The same with exercise,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as easy as playing outside with friends.”
Assisting Klem during the camp were her sister Katherine, Darcy Gleeson, Hannah Hardy, Molly Abel and Mallory Killion, who will all be juniors at Sacred Heart this fall.