Kent State Nutrition Students Work with the Community


Graham Smith

Kirsten Seman, 9, from Ravenna adds chocolate chips to a healthy desert for the K.I.D.S. program at Nixson Hall on Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014. Nutrition Outreach graduate and undergraduate students are working with children and parents from Portage County to educate them in nutrition and dietetics as part of an eight week program.

Julia Sprowls

Kent State’s Center of Nutrition Outreach offers a weight management program for youth called K.I.D.S., or Kids Interested in Diet and Sport. This program teaches Portage County children between the ages of 5 and 18 how to be more active through physical activities and how to eat well through hands-on cooking experiences.

Health sciences associate professor Natalie Caine-Bish developed the program along with several others in the pediatric part of nutrition outreach. Caine-Bish said the program is a family dynamic.  

“The kids are supposed to come with their parents and their parents do something while the kids are doing the physical activity,” Caine-Bish said.

Nutrition graduate student Alicia Ferrell said that while the kids and parents are separated, the parents attend nutrition lessons as well as healthy cooking seminars.

“The kids will have a short nutrition lesson, then go to the gym or do other activities, like Zumba or yoga, and then have a healthy snack,” Ferrell said.

The first 45 minutes of the program is devoted to nutrition education. However the kids do not just sit and listen because it is all activity-based, Caine-Bish said. Each week, there is a new area of focus that the staff incorporates into games, activities and cooking.

“We use food a lot because the best way to teach kids or anybody about serving sizes is by actually touching real food,” she said.

Undergraduate and graduate dietetic students, as well as some public health students, work with the program. The students work one-on-one with each child as a peer mentor each week.

Term instructor Caroline Roessler, a pediatric dietitian, runs the program with lecturer Tanya Falcone, also a dietitian.

The program runs for 10 weeks and is offered once each semester. This spring’s session meets every Thursday evening in 200 Nixson Hall and is currently in its fifth week.

The program is free for children ages 5 and 18 and requires a referral from the child’s doctor. It is too late to sign up for this spring’s session, but anyone interested in camp this fall can call 330-672-2063 or email [email protected].

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Contact Julia Sprowls at [email protected].