This article was contributed by Samela Perez with San Benito County Public Health Services.
Public Health Services, in partnership with San Juan School, is excited to announce the unveiling of a healthy eating and health behaviors mural at the school site. The mural is a collective art project completed by kindergarten through fifth grade students. Each student was given an opportunity to express what health eating and healthy behaviors meant to them through artwork. The outcome is a mural placed outside the school cafeteria that promotes the messages of eating well and keeping active.
“Public Health has been a welcome addition to our school,” said Principal Elizabeth Cord. “Our interactions started with nutrition education presentations and the ‘Rethink Your Drink’ campaign which introduces students to drinking fresh fruit-flavored water instead of sugary beverages, and culminated in this beautiful and amazing mural. I am very proud of our students and their teachers for putting forth a great effort. This mural will be enjoyed by San Juan School students for years to come.”
According to Public Health Services, San Benito County is facing a public health crisis of overweight and obesity in both children and in adults.
“The San Juan schoolchildren are modeling a lifestyle that we encourage for our entire community” said San Benito County Public Health Officer Marty Fenstersheib, MD/MPH. “Eating a plant-based diet and exercising regularly help to both lose weight and maintain weight loss. The importance of these behaviors cannot be overestimated, and people are more likely to maintain them in adulthood when they are started in childhood.”
According to the California Health Interview Survey for San Benito County, 38.2% of children ages 2-4 are overweight or obese and 19.1% are obese. Of children ages 5-19 years old, 49.4% are overweight or obese and 32.3% are obese. Only 52% of San Benito County children ages 2-11 years old report eating two to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
“Having the kids work on the tile mural was a fun way to get them thinking about healthy habits such as being more physically active and eating more fruits and vegetables,” said Erika Vallin, health educator with Public Health Services.
The mural was funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as CalFresh Healthy Living, within Public Health Services.
“One of the goals of the CalFresh Healthy Living program is to increase consumption of healthy foods and reduce the prevalence of obesity and the onset of related chronic diseases within the CalFresh eligible population (< 185 % of the Federal Poverty Level and others eligible for CalFresh),” Vallin said.
For more information on the CalFresh program, please call San Benito County Public Health Services at (831) 637-5367 or go to San Benito Public Health Services website: http://hhsa.cosb.us/publichealth/