Nourish U Summit cultivates ideas to promote healthy eating and drinking

“Are we nourishing our children, or are we just feeding them?” That was the central question of the keynote presentation by Deanna Hoelscher, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., and an underlying theme at this year’s Michael & Susan Dell Community Collaborative for Child Health Summit.  

Hoelscher explained that to “feed” is to just give food, but to “nourish” is to provide with substance necessary for growth, health, and good condition. She says she believes the current child obesity problem is due in part to our children being overfed and undernourished.

This fall, the collaborative awarded a dozen Central Texas schools $250-500 “Nourish U: Healthy Eating & Drinking” community grants to support projects, initiatives, and campaigns aimed at improving children’s diets. At the end of the school year, everyone gathered for the summit to share lessons learned with one another and the greater community, as well as hear from experts in the fields of nutrition and public health. Nearly 100 people were in attendance, including a large contingency of students from the Nourish U campuses.

Several of the schools involved students in the planning and execution of their Nourish U projects. Cunningham Elementary’s student-led team piloted a healthy food taste test at their local corner store to raise awareness for new, healthier alternatives that the store had recently begun to stock. Students from Taylor ISD after school programs helped develop activities and lessons to teach their fellow students (and their parents!) about nutrition through healthy snacks.

Attendees of the summit participated in a group activity during which they discussed new “nourishing” projects based on what they had learned throughout the morning. Students brought an invaluable perspective to the process with both their creative and critical thinking. The children were also surprised to see how seriously the adults take the issue. “A lot of people care about what they eat and what they put into their bodies,” said one student from Cunningham.

Summit attendees also heard about the intersection of health and social media from Rick Carrillo of Salud America. As a film and video director, Carrillo discussed the role of storytelling in online community building. His message was well-received as the audience actively shared their experiences and key takeaways throughout the summit with the hashtag #NourishU.

Summit attendees and the accomplishments of the grantees made it clear that nourishment is important to the Central Texas community.

To learn more about the Nourish U projects, visit: http://go.uth.edu/NourishU

—Written by Brooks Ballard