Did you know that obesity rates of children in kindergarten through 2nd grade rise during the summer months? A couple of reasons for this include not eating healthy and being less physically active.
On July 21, 2017, the Onondaga County Health Department (OCHD) teamed up with the Syracuse City School District’s Summer Food Service Program and Syracuse Community Connections (SCC, formerly the Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility) at the Southwest Community Center to host a “Summer 2017 Heritage Health Kick” event at SCC. At this event, children were able to enjoy a healthy meal and take part in games and a group Mixed Martial Arts event provided by H2Fitness. To give children more opportunities for physical activity at SCC, OCHD installed playground stencil games on the outside grounds of the SCC. OCHD also coordinated a “Trunk n’ Learn” health fair for the parents and caregivers of children participating in the “Heritage Health Kick” event. This offered families an opportunity to learn more about the program and services that are available to community residents. Also at this event, five children received new bicycles as part of a prize drawing following the lunch time activities.
The goal of the SCSD Summer Food Service Program is to provide healthy meals to children in the city during the summer months. “The Syracuse City School District is proud to be partnering with over 22 City parks, libraries, churches, and community centers to offer free meals to children under the age of 18 in the Syracuse Community”, said Superintendent of Schools, Jaime Alicea. “Eating healthy throughout the summer is important and these partnerships coupled with the 26 SCSD school sites where meals are also being offered provide our kids the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal every day throughout the summer”, added Alicea.
When children are out of school, they may not eat as healthy or be as physically active as they should be. “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health” said Dr. Indu Gupta, Commissioner of Health. “Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, builds healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, and provides many other health benefits. In addition to the health benefits, physical activity helps to improve students’ academic performance such as better grades and behavior in the classroom,” explained Gupta.
Sharon Owens, Executive Director of SCC explains, “The foundation for a healthy child starts with what they eat and drink. Every achievement and challenge starts from there.” SCC at Southwest Community Center is a place where children can come throughout the summer and eat both breakfast and lunch. At SCC, kids are able to participate in many activities during the day. Owens continued, “We are pleased to be able to serve our community through the many partnerships we have with other agencies.”
For more information on the SCSD Summer Food Service Program, please contact Rachel Murphy, Director of Food and Nutrition at SCSD, at 315-435-4207.