Farm to Table program encourages healthy eating habits for girls in Omaha

September 30th, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

10346373_10152262159252406_408979072961039927_nGirls Inc. is an after-school and summer program in north and south Omaha. It serves girls ages kindergarten through 12th grade every day after school and all day long when school is out for the summer. Their mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. They are part of a national organization that is celebrating and empowering girls around the country, and has been for almost 150 years!

Girls, Inc was one of ten metropolitan area organizations that have joined Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in an effort to combat childhood obesity in 2014.  Children’s awarded Girls, Inc. a $25,000 grant as part of the Preventing Childhood Obesity Community Grants on April 30, 2014. This grant is being used to fund the Farm to Table initiative.

10441215_10152262153372406_7687504725370538895_nThe Girls Inc. Farm to Table program aims to make healthy food familiar and desirable to young girls, encouraging them to make better eating choices and carry those habits into their homes and communities.  Resources for the program include nutrition, cooking and gardening classes. View their Farm to Table photo album on Facebook to see the girls enjoy the harvest from their garden beds.

>> Watch a video about Farm to Table from Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

Amari, a 12-year-old Girls Inc. member, has been participating in healthy cooking classes at Girls Inc. Before she took cooking classes, she thought cooking was “something my mother would do.” She learned that she enjoyed cooking – learning skills, vocabulary, and information about healthy foods.

Amari learned skills. She said, “I learned how to use a knife properly. You never put your fingers down flat when you are cutting. You either ball them up in a fist or put them on the back of the knife. My cousin is older than I am but he cut himself badly when he was trying to cut a tomato. I also learned things like measurements – how to use a measuring cups and how to use a teaspoon or half a teaspoon to season food.”

10563021_10152262153677406_740047584259103249_nShe learned how to make dishes she enjoyed using healthy substitutions and to try new foods. “My mom makes tacos with beef. At Girls Inc., we learned to make them with beans and vegetables, like grated carrots. They tasted just like meat tacos. With the seasonings, you couldn’t even tell the difference. A bean taco is not something I would have ever tried if I didn’t make it in this class. We learned how to make things like Pumpkin Delight dip that we used with celery sticks, apple slices, and healthy crackers. We also made a Strawberry Delight, but I like the pumpkin better. That dip is something I would never have tried. I didn’t think about eating pumpkin and pumpkin is actually good for you. And not just the dip, but the dippers. I wouldn’t normally eat celery sticks either!”

Amari learned techniques and kitchen vocabulary. “I didn’t know the word sauté or anything about it. Now I know the word and I know how to do it! I learned a lot of things like that where it was just part of the work of cooking the food. We also learned about health and safety – things like always washing fruits and vegetables before you cook them. That is always the first step.”

Amari explained, “I love cooking now. Some people never get the chance to learn this. They might struggle with obesity or diabetes. I am lucky to have this opportunity. It was fun.”

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Farm to Table classes are available at various locations on various days of the week at centers in North and South Omaha from 4:30 – 6 p.m. The cost for the entire calendar year is $100. If you would like more information about Farm to Table or Girls Inc., contact Emily Mwaja at You can also visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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