FANSE Kids....How it began!
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Getting children to eat healthy is a daunting task. As a mom of two I face this challenge every single day. My background as a nutrition scientist made me extremely cautious, always reading the labels and ingredients of every package that makes it into my pantry. But children spend a significant amount of time outside the house - at schools, before/after school care and day care centers. No matter how hard we try to keep them in a safe food bubble they are ultimately exposed to the highly processed, high sugar, high fat and high salt foods! Ultimately it will be upon them to make informed healthy food choices. Today 1 in 5 school-aged children are obese and if the trend continues 57% of them will have obesity at age 35.
FANSE Kids emerged from strong desire to improve nutrition literacy and increase food system awareness among children, families and communities. In 2015 while working as nutrition scientist at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center for Aging at Tufts University I completed Discovery Museum's Science Communication fellowship program offered in partnership with the national organization Portal to Public. As a scientist I have always pursued opportunities to share research findings with the community - from health care professionals, sales and marketing personnel to older adults living in senior centers and nursing homes. Being a Science Communication Fellow helped me recognize a meaningful tool for public engagement in science. It is a perfect medium for food and nutrition education using hands-on STEAM based learning. As a Science Communication Fellow I have represented the Discovery Museum at many large events such as the Cambridge Science Festival, AAAS Family Science Days in 2017 and also at Discovery's own Meet The Scientists. I have also done workshops with Big Brothers Big Sisters of central MA & metro west and participated in the Geek is Glam STEM expo with the Girls Scouts of Central and Western MA in 2018.
When my son started school I became more vested in understanding the curriculum frameworks and standards especially for math, science/technology and health. There is a significant gap when it comes to nutrition and health education especially at the elementary level. There are significant benchmarks to accomplish with ELA/Reading, Writing and Math leaving bare minimum time for health and nutrition. FANSE Kids aims to integrate food, nutrition and health education with current curriculum frameworks for Literacy, Math, Science, Technology/Engineering and Arts and implement it through experiential learning, in simple terms hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) based learning.