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Food bank makes lasting impact through nutrition education

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The Chattanooga Area Food Bank provides food to thousands of families in a 20-county area, but their mission isn’t only to supply meals. The organization also works with local schools to make a lasting impact through education.

Chattanooga Area Food Bank instructors stopped by Orchard Knob Elementary School in September for an interactive workshop that looked more like a school party than a nutrition lesson.

 “I learned you have to eat fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water,” said student Rodeesha Wade.

Teaching students about healthy lifestyles is part of the curriculum at Orchard Knob. School leaders say the extra support from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank helps students take the lessons to heart.

 “Being able to reinforce the importance of fruits and vegetables every day, it translates into the classroom, it translates into lunch choices, and those are the things that we are hoping the kids pick up,” explained Etienne Easley, Family Partnership Specialist at Orchard Knob.

After the interactive presentation, the students put what they learned into practice by dividing into groups and making fruit kebobs. The simple project is fun for students and teaches them a practical way to eat fruit that they can easily prepare at home with their families.

Orchard Knob also is one of several schools that participates in the food bank’s “Sack Pack” program. Qualifying students take home a bag full of food on Fridays to make sure they have enough to eat over the weekend. School leaders said it’s a vital program that meets an important need.

“I do believe the children would go hungry without the packs,” said Easley. “That is the reason why we work with the parents, so the parents can sign up for the packs and we can be a team and make sure that no kid goes hungry over the weekends.”

The food bank’s efforts fill bellies and minds with nourishment that wouldn’t be possible without community support through efforts like Share Your Christmas.

The education has a ripple effect in the community as the children go home and share their newfound knowledge with their families.

 “We’re not only teaching regular subjects here, but lifestyle choices and lifestyle changes that the students can make,” Easley said. “That is the reason why it’s making a difference. And those children not only implement that here at school, but they go home and teach parents what they’ve learned. And our parents will come back to us and say, ‘My child learned this today. They talked about this big event that happened.’ So parents are understanding and seeing the difference in the childrens’ choices in food. Fruit vs. junk. Juice vs. sodas. These are the things that are translating due to programs like this.”

Wade knows exactly what she is going to tell her family.

“I’m going to tell everybody in my family: don’t eat greasy food, eat vegetables and drink plenty of water,” Wade said.

You can help the Chattanooga Area Food Bank continue these programs by donating to Channel 3’s 31st annual Share Your Christmas food drive on Friday, Dec. 4. We will be at First Tennessee Pavilion in Chattanooga, Lifecare Center’s Campbell Campus on Keith Street in Cleveland and at First Baptist Church in Dalton from 4:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Or you can make a monetary donation online.

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