American Heart Association helps provide healthy food for Syracuse students and families over winter break

The American Heart Association, along with several other organizations, provided hundreds of meals for Syracuse students and their families during the school district’s winter break.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the American Heart Association and the Growing Healthy Hearts coalition served students and parents a free, light lunch at one Syracuse City School District elementary school each day. The schools included Dr. Weeks Elementary School, Seymour Dual Language Academy and Franklin Elementary School.

Lunch included heart-healthy vegetarian chili, fruit, bread and water. Parents had the opportunity to not only learn how to make this inexpensive meal with a demonstration from a dietitian, but also take the ingredients home to make it themselves.

“Thanks to the work of several local companies and organizations, we were able to provide more than 700 healthy meals in our community,” said Franklin Fry, American Heart Association executive director. “That includes families coming together over a healthy meal at school, and a recipe and ingredients for a family of four that are going home with parents. By making these healthy meals a family activity, we hope to encourage healthy habits for students and their families.”

“We know students won’t always get the nutrition they need when school is not in session,” Fry continued. “We held this event over winter break to help increase the availability of healthy meals for kids and families.”

Unused produce will be given to students when they come back from break on Monday. Non-perishable items will be donated to the Blessings in a Backpack program, which helps provide healthy meals for students over the weekend.

These healthy meals are part of the American Heart Association’s Growing Healthy Hearts program, sponsored by St. Joseph’s Health. The program gives students and their families in seven Syracuse elementary schools special access to health activities. The goal of the program is to help students learn healthy habits they can bring home and keep for life

The Growing Healthy Hearts coalition includes the American Heart Association, sponsor St. Joseph’s Health, Syracuse City School District, TCI Syracuse, Onondaga County Health Department, Syracuse Department of Parks & Recreation and Onondaga County Public Libraries.

Growing Healthy Hearts is in seven schools and reaches about 4,400 students. The program includes Dr. Weeks Elementary School, Franklin Elementary School, H.W. Smith Pre-K-8 School, McKinley-Brighton Elementary School, Porter Elementary School, Seymour Dual Language Academy, and Van Duyn Elementary School.

These healthy meals events were made possible with support from National Grid, Wegmans, and Syracuse University.


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