Michelle Obama may have a national stage regarding the childhood obesity problem, but how individual communities work to combat this problem is a mosaic of efforts nationwide. Locally, at Berkshire Health Systems, Operation Better Start (OBS) exists to help children and their parents work on lifestyle and health issues that are threatening their health. Asthma, diabetes, cholesterol, eating disorders, hypertension, food allergies—all are within the purview of OBS and led by Program Director Pete Gazzillo and Clinical Coordinator, Kathy Marchetto, plus a staff of ten. Socio-economic aspects (e.g. fast food chains lined up in poor communities and the limitations of WIC/food stamp budgets), the media (a barrage of ads for sugary soda drinks and junk-food), lack of education (simply not understanding that whole foods are superior to processed ones) and poor choices or psychological issues can all factor in. OBS is a great Berkshire community resource and works with its network of partners in the community ranging from farmers markets to martial arts studios.
Other nutritional training and counseling are offered via the Nutrition Center. This summer they have partnered with The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home to create a Food Adventures summer camp. Join them for a hands-on cooking series designed especially for school-age children (ages 7-14) located on the beautiful grounds of The Mount. Children will learn basic cooking skills and nutrition concepts while focusing on ideas that were near and dear to Edith Wharton’s heart: a reverence for tradition, the importance of home cooking, gathering around a beautiful table, and eating mindful, sociable meals with friends and family.
Under its parent organization (The Nutrition Center), Food Adventures is a hands-on nutrition education program designed specifically for children. The goal of the program is to allow children to develop a healthy relationship with food by preparing meals through an interactive, fun, and peer-supportive approach. In addition to reinforcing the standard Core curriculum (via math, science, language, and culture), Food Adventures teaches children about nutrition, local food production, balanced food choices, and kitchen safety. This experiential program makes conceptual nutrition education come to life and empowers children to make healthier lifestyle choices.