April is National Minority Health Month!
31.6 million children participated in the National School Lunch Program on a typical day during the 2009-2010 school year. Eligibility for the free and reduced-price lunch program is often used as a proxy measure of family income; in 2005, Black and Hispanic 4th grade students were about three times more likely to be eligible for free and reduced-price lunch than White 4th graders (70%/73% vs. 24%). Minority groups are also particularly hard hit by obesity. For example, African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese, with about four out of five African American women being overweight or obese. Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers. With continued increases in the number of children eating school meals and the increase in obesity, the push for access to nutritious meals has become paramount.
April is National Minority Health Month. The Office of Minority Health provides resources for state and local offices of minority health, for parents, for kids, for organizations and schools, and for preconception peer educators (PPEs). Although it is National Minority Health Month, we should recognize that healthy eating is not just a minority issue. The National Library of Medicine, along with other government and non-profit organizations, provide a variety of healthy eating resources for all population groups.
MedlinePlus is a consumer health resource that offers authoritative, up-to-date health information, without advertisements, and is available anytime, anywhere for free. The MedlinePlus website is available in both English and Spanish, and includes information in over 45 different languages. MedlinePlus has health topic pages on Nutrition and Child Nutrition, as well as numerous other related topics.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has published a variety of healthy cookbooks and recipes. Platillos Latinos ¡Sabrosos y Saludables!/Delicious Heart Healthy Latino Recipes and Heart Healthy Home Cooking African American Style – With Every Heartbeat Is Life are two cookbooks that include new recipes for old favorites, with additional information on heart healthy food substitutions and food safety. There is also a searchable database of NHLBI’s “keep the beat” recipes, including recipes in both individual and family-sized portions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a website, Fruits and Veggies Matter to promote the addition to more fruits and vegetables to our daily diet. There are a couple of interactive tools, such as Recipe Remix, which teaches you how to add fruits and vegetables to your meal while reducing fat, calories, and sodium. There is also a recipe database for fruit and/or vegetable-centric dishes.
KidsHealth has a ton of fun recipes for parents, for kids, and for teens. Additional recipes are provided for those with cystic fibrosis, diabetes, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease, as well as vegetarian options. KidsHealth also provides age appropriate material for nutrition and fitness for kids and teens.
So for April, let’s celebrity healthy eating — Whether you bring it or buy it, make lunch healthy, green, and good! In schools libraries, even food can teach us a lesson!