Posted 02/24/2017

Four members of the Obesity Workgroup recently received a grant from the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health, funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to teach local elementary school students about unhealthy processed foods.

The team of four consists of Amy Ferguson, Public Health Director of Calloway County; Dr. Miranda Terry, Assistant Professor and Director of Public and Community Health at Murray State University; Michelle Hansen, Coordinator of the Calloway County Family Resource Center; and Susan Burkeen, Grant Team Coordinator, Obesity Workgroup Coordinator and Wellness Works Nurse at Murray-Calloway County Hospital. Jointly they wrote the grant and turned it in to the Academy with high hopes of being able to teach children vital facts about their daily food choices. There were only five teams in the nation chosen to receive the grant, and Calloway County’s team was one of them!

The grant provides funding for the group to go to a national conference where they will learn about best practices in public health and community health education.

A requirement of the grant proposal is to develop and implement a community health project designed to address youth obesity. The team organized their project to coincide with the Obesity Workgroup’s upcoming ‘Fresh is Better’ campaign; the title of the project being “Healthy Kids, Healthy Lives”. This campaign encourages community members to decrease their intake of processed foods and influence their mindset through education.

“Most people don’t realize how much of their food is actually processed. We are feeding our families with the quickest options possible, when we should be focusing on the least processed foods to make a healthy meal that will benefit our family’s daily living,” said Susan Burkeen, RN. “For example, an apple wouldn’t have any processed elements, and apple sauce has processed elements but is still a good choice, and apple pie would be the most processed option meaning it would not be something we should consume on a daily basis. This type of example will be used to educate the children on how to make better choices in their life.”

Second and fifth graders at a local Calloway County elementary school will be involved in this 5-week project during March and April.