The lament is as old as parenthood how can I get my kids to eat fresh fruits and vegetables?Now, researchers at the UNM Prevention Research Center have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative to test if a positive, hands-on experience with fresh and affordable foods - including fruits and vegetables - will increase children's preferences for and consumption of these healthful foods.

This four-year project will evaluate and extend the Santa Fe-based Cooking with Kids food and nutrition education program that works with economically disadvantaged Hispanic and American Indian elementary school children, through an integrated research, education and extension project called "Cooking with Kids: Integrating Classroom, Cafeteria, and Family Experiences to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Preference and Intake." Researchers will partner with school food and nutrition programs and Cooperative Extension staff in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Gallup to explore the ways children learn about and choose foods.

Among the questions that researchers will be asking are:

Will positive experiences with fruits and vegetables in the classroom plus cafeteria promotion improve students' acceptance of fruits and vegetables?

Can family food preparation and eating practices be modified to support more healthful dietary patterns?

Do these experiences contribute to more healthful food choices, and thus reduce children's risk for developing obesity and chronic diseases?

The expectation is that the research will support the USDA's strategic planning goals of improving the nation's nutrition and health by increasing children's preferences for and consumption of fruits and vegetables and enhancing economic opportunities for agricultural producers.

Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, PhD, RD, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, will serve as Program Director and Lynn Walters, MS, Director of the Cooking with Kids (CWK) Program in Santa Fe , will serve as CoProgram Director for this new research project.

 


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322