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St. Charles teaching nutrition education

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / October 7, 1998

HAHNVILLE – St. Charles Parish is one of nine parishes in the stateimplementing nutrition education programs in the classroom and health awareness at home.

The Louisiana Office of Public Health’s 5-A-Day program and the Louisiana Department of Education’s Team Nutrition program are working to increase fruit and vegetable intake in school aged children and their families. Other parishes taking part in the effort include Orleans, Caddo,Bossier, East Baton Rouge, Assumption, Franklin, Calcasieu and Washington.

“We’re focusing on fruits and vegetables, not only because they are healthy, but they prevent diseases and cancer,” said Jacqueline Clements, the child nutrition director for St. Charles Parish public schools. “That’swhy the American Cancer Society is also trying to inform students.”The National Cancer Institute suggests a goal of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for adults and children, and according to the Vermont Department of Health, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetable consumption will likely decrease the amount of fats and calories eaten.

“It is important to combine fruits and vegetables with other foods for a balanced diet, which includes all the essential nutrients and adequate calories for growing children,” as stated by the Department of Health.

The parishwide health effort will include the introduction of the 5-A-Day educational program in the classroom and the distribution of 5-A-Day promotional materials such as pencils, membership cards, refrigerator magnets, calendars and brochures to serve as an incentive to get students to participate and increase awareness at home.

“Students don’t usually eat fruits and vegetables, and it’s so important that they do,” Clements said.

National 5-A-Day Week was held Sept. 13-19, and pledges were solicitedfor the consumption of a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables daily for the week. Due to weather conditions in the parish during theweek, Clements said several parish schools requested participation at a later date.

“The pledge is our main focus right now,” Clements said. “We’re workingto get the schools involved.”The joint venture in the health effort will continue throughout the 1998- 99 school year.

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