A Glance Back: Sustainers Volunteer at JLFM ” Kids in the Kitchen” Spring Festival

Sustainer articles published in Gulf Glances celebrating JLFM history’s journey into the future.

By Sandra Raak, JLFM Past President & Kathleen Williamson, JLFM Past President & Shamie Kelly, Sustainer

On June 6, 2015 the Junior League of Fort Myers held a “Kid’s In The Kitchen” Spring Festival & 50th Anniversary Kick-Off at the Stars Complex. This free event was open to the public. The “Kids in the Kitchen” (KITK) initiative is a hands-on program to educate kids and their families about healthy eating and physical fitness. This nationally recognized initiative is grounded in the belief that children (and families) when empowered with the knowledge of how to feed and exercise their bodies will be less likely to become obese and subsequently suffer many associated health risks. The KITK program has become a springboard for building childhood nutrition programs that address hunger, fitness, gardening, and life skills.

More than 200 children and their families discovered from station to station about the importance of healthy eating and living an active lifestyle. Over 20 non-profit organizations provided information about the services they offer and promoted volunteerism within their organizations. Highlight’s included Proper Dental Health, Literacy, Healthy Plate Portions, Eat This not That, Learning All About Citrus, Plant-A-Seed, Zumba, & Healthy Snacks and Drinks. Attendees were also able to interact with live animals and participate in fun exercises.

Fifteen Sustainers volunteered, helping children in the “Plant-A-Seed” booth where they learned how to grow their own healthy food and planted seeds in their own takeaway pots. In the Healthy Smiles booth sustainers helped teach children about the importance of good dental health, and distributed a dental swag bag with a new toothbrush, toothpaste and handout information which had practical tips for proper brushing.

The event also gave attendees, their families and friends the opportunity to sign up for the League’s 50 for 50 Challenge, in which participants were able to commit to doing 50 hours of community service to a local non-profit of their choice. Over 13,000 hours of community service were completed by the participants within the Junior League’s year of service.

Since 2004 the JLFM has hosted dozens of events addressing health, nutrition, and childhood obesity education. Some of the other JLFM “Kids In The Kitchen” events included Interactive Cooking Classes (where JLFM members helped kids prepare healthy ingredients for breakfast foods); Couponing and Healthy Eating Classes; various health and fitness events; and other local events like Streets Alive, where attendees experienced a day of fitness and food to promote healthier lifestyles. These events are held in partnership with local organizations and community partners through award of a JLFM mini grant or the assistance of JLFM and Sustainer volunteers.