In fall 2017, the Out of School program at Hazelwood Middle School hosted its first Healthy Families Night sessions. The 10-week, once per week sessions focused on nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices, and food literacy. Families received a free healthy meal, learned about and discussed strategies for improving physical and mental health.
Topics over the 10 weeks included the importance of drinking water, tips for dealing with stress, and the harmful of effects of over-consumption of sugar and food preservatives. Each week, participating families received a gift associated with the week’s topic, for example, a Brita water pitcher, recipes, and ingredients to make healthy sides and snacks, chamomile tea, and family board games.
Additionally, families tracked their daily lifestyle choices, including water intake, fruit, and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and created as a family a “healthy” goal to achieve each week. Initially, families were skeptical and apprehensive, as most meals offered in the evenings featured foods many participants had never tried.
Ten families (46 people) enrolled in the Healthy Families Program at Hazelwood. Of the seven families who attended regularly (five or more times), five of those families graduated from the program (attended eight or more times).
Overall, response to Healthy Families Nights was positive. Feedback included comments such as, “We drink more water and less soda,” “Soda is more of a treat now,” “We shop healthier,” “We eat more greens,” and “We try harder to spend time as a family.”