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Leah Whigham

Institute for Healthy Living

Can you imagine your family coming together in the kitchen to enjoy preparing a meal together – one that is healthy, delicious and not too expensive?

For many, this may seem like a distant dream. Maybe you are convinced the kids will not enjoy cooking or eating a healthy meal. Or you think it would take too much time or cost too much money. There is good news – a new program is about to launch here in El Paso that will help families enjoy healthy, affordable, home-cooked meals.

The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living at UTEP is partnering with Common Threads, a national organization created to bring health and wellness to children, families and communities through cooking and nutrition education. The program is funded through a SNAP-Ed grant by the Health and Human Services Commission of Texas.

The program will include four distinct areas:

NUTRITION EDUCATION:

The program Small Bites teaches PreK through eighth grade students about healthy eating through a series of eight lessons combining nutrition and knife-free cooking. The lessons support the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and give students the opportunity to connect math, language arts, and science concepts to hands-on experiences that will give them tools to live longer, healthier lives.

PARENT ENGAGEMENT:

Parent workshops encourage healthy eating habits. They also have flexible formatting that allows them to be incorporated into other parent-related programs. Chef-guided grocery store tours are also available to the community.

COMMON BYTES:

A digital platform that supports nutrition education curriculum and is a resource for healthy recipes, fun online games for kids and engaging nutrition lessons.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:

Healthy Teacher Training workshops empower educators and school staff to be healthy role models by teaching basic nutrition and healthy cooking through interactive activities. The training equips participants to facilitate the Small Bites program, and also helps participants contribute to a culture of health and wellness within their organization.

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