Influenced by a mentor’s concern and supported through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM) program was able to develop a nutrition policy that would encourage mentors and mentees to chose healthy food options.
The policy implementation is most visible during their planned monthly activity when all mentors and mentees come together. A meal is planned and prepared by the advisory council consisting of a two high school and 2 middle school students and the BEAM coordinator, Katy Gonzalez.
Kyra Ober, the president of the advisory council for three years shares that she “was surprised by what was available locally at Jubas Supervalue for healthy foods.” She also stated that kids asked “why?” at first in regards to eating healthy. Kyra response was that its “actually fun to be creative and plan a meal.” She was excited to have input on their monthly menu planning where they either came up with ideas, got them from the internet, or from foods class at Blue Earth Area High School. Her favorite menu item that has been repeated includes fruit salsa consisting of strawberries, kiwi, orange juice, apples, fruit preserves and honey, paired with a baked whole wheat tortilla strip sprinkled with cinnamon. Other favorites included fresh vegetables with chicken as in fajitas, wraps or salads.
“The influence came from a mentor’s concern to discuss healthy eating in a non-offensive way,” states Gonzalez, while reflecting on how it got started. After talking with the mentor, Gary Holmseth, it was evident the impact the mentors have on the mentees and vise versa. When they are with each other one-on-one, there is a great opportunity and responsibility to educate in that time. He is encouraging his mentee to try new things and limit his sugar intake.
The January banquet brought together not only mentors and mentees but family members as well for the first time, where they featured a healthy three course meal, did activities, and conducted a survey on the nutrition policy.
In an effort to continue educating the mentors, mentees and family members, Katie has decided to submit the featured menus in the monthly newsletter and is interested in developing a recipe book.
For more information on BEAM or the policy, visit: http://www.beammentors.com/