On Tuesday, July 2nd, FoodFight hosted our first ever conference “E.A.T.: Educating America’s Teachers to Lead the Fight Against Obesity” at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. It went beyond our wildest dreams. 150 teachers came from schools all across the tri-state area to get educated about food and its role in their lives. There were guest speakers, cooking demos, raffles, and of course, plenty of healthy food to go around. Here are just a few of the highlights!
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a product of the New York public school system himself, woke up the audience with an energetic keynote speech about the invaluable impact teachers can have by modeling healthy habits to their students.
He reminded the audience that “we’re all in this together” – raising a generation of healthy kids means adults have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk when it comes to healthy eating and living.
Next, Dr. David Katz got right down to business, discussing the pervasive nature of the obesity epidemic and health crisis, why a national/global coordinated response is critical to moving the needle, and how schools and teachers can shift norms around health and wellness.
After FoodFight’s co-founders exposed the shocking marketing tactics that food companies use to shape our eating and buying habits, it was time to take a break and digest this information. Our yogi, Paul, switched things up by getting everyone on their feet and feeling muscles that we didn’t even know existed! The movements were specifically designed to take back to the desk and get that much needed mid-day energy boost.
As we all enjoyed our delicious lunch, provided by Fresh Direct, we learned how Chef Juan Pablo whips up simple, quick and healthy meals. Needless to say, there were no leftover samples. Still thinking about that roasted red pepper hummus and gazpacho soup. Mmmm…
The afternoon continued with learning about food politics, nutrition, sustainability and food justice.
One of our favorite veggie sensations, Colby Carrot from Super Sprowtz, surprised us by leading an impromptu dance performance and got the crowd grooving to “Gangnam Style.”
You could have sliced the energy in the room with a knife! It was such an honor to have such a vibrant mix of educators and experts join the FoodFight!
We were all reminded of the role we play in changing norms around health and wellness and gained the tools to do just that. Each teacher left with a FoodFight resource guide, curriculum to use with their students, and a pledge card dedicated to sharing what they learned with their students, families and friends.
A big thank you to friends and supporters of the event: Whole Kids Foundation, Montefiore Hospital, Fresh Direct, Organic Valley, Hint, Vitamix, PACT, Healthy Surprise and Rodale.
Jerry Connel is a fully qualified nutritionist and personal trainer. He is also currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Food Science at Oregon State University in the US. He has been a keen bodybuilder throughout his adulthood and is well-versed with health supplements.