In 2010, 38% of children in California were overweight or obese, according to a study from California Center for Public Health Advocacy and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Children living in low-income communities may be particularly vulnerable as a result of issues associated with poverty such as limited access to healthy food and safe places to be active.
Without the structure provided by the school year, summer for many of these kids can become one filled with unhealthy food and sedentary activities like watching TV or playing video games. To help kids avoid the “summer slump,” it is critical that we offer plenty of opportunities for physical activity, healthy food, and learning during summer vacation.
Integrating nutrition education into summer meal programs is an ideal way to keep kids engaged and active, while teaching them how to make healthy choices. Summer is a perfect time to promote healthy eating and physical activity as most kids are eager to be active and ready to play. To get started, click here to read California Department of Education’s guide to bringing nutrition education into your summer meal program.
The Summer Meal Coalition partners with the Network for a Healthy California to connect summer meal sponsors and sites with free nutrition education materials and resources from programs such as the Children’s Power Play! Campaign, ReThink Your Drink and Harvest of the Month. Listen to our ReThink Your Drink webinar or the regional Power Play! webinars (Sacramento, Northern/Central California, or Southern)to find out how your summer meal program can offer creative, engaging games and activities for kids.