Kids in the Kitchen: Learning to Eat Healthy in Long Beach
Cilantro, celery, lettuce, and green beans are all vegetables easy to plant and grow in your backyard, and that’s exactly what 13-year-old Ashley Posada was teaching families how to do at this year’s Kids in the Kitchen event in Long Beach.
It was 10 a.m. in almost 80-degree weather and dozens of families were arriving with their toddlers and teenagers to learn about healthy eating.
“I want green beans,” said a little girl as Ashley poked a whole through the dirt in a small cup.
The Peace Garden was one of several interactive booths where youth really took action in teaching their peers about health, fitness and nutrition. Witnessing the dynamic of young people influencing each other really demonstrated how communities could work together and activate change instantly.
“The more kids are engaged in preparing their food, the more likely they are in eating the food,” said Lara Turnbull, project director of Healthy Active Long Beach.
At this year’s 9th annual Kids in the Kitchen event, hosted by the Healthy Active Long Beach and Junior League of Long Beach, families were given healthy recipe books, reusable shopping bags and dental consultations for children – all for free, thanks to local organizations, businesses and city services that helped sponsor the event.
Groups such as YMCA/Walk Long Beach, The Children’s Dental Clinic, Cal Fresh and dozens of others, all united and exhibited the true impact community partnerships have in improving the quality of life in neighborhoods.
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services plays a vital role in the existence of the majority of these groups including Healthy Active Long Beach and Peace Garden. It supports families by offering resources and partnering with local organizations with similar missions and efforts to create sustainable change.
“When [Healthy Active LB] started 11 years ago there were weight management programs but no nutrition programs in Long Beach,” said Turnbull. “We recognized that people didn’t need to be told what to do but instead how to do it … we build their skills, look at health policy, walkability, urban gardens, food access and more.”
Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is one of only three city-operated health departments in California, becoming a leader in addressing public health issues such as access to healthy foods, childhood obesity, environmental health, mental health and many more.
“My little girl is the one who told me she wanted to come because they talked about it at her school and shared flyers,” said 43-year-old Adrian Gonzalez as he helped his 8-year-old daughter play with a hula hoop.
When the first Kids in the Kitchen event was launched, a few hundred people attended, said Andrea Gunn, president of Junior League. Now more than a thousand come out to the event showing the demand there is for health resources in Long Beach.
“We don’t criticize, we work with people,” said Turnbull. “Thanks to our partners they help us spread the word.”
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