March 20, 2018 by HCDE-Texas
Harris County Department of Education Head Start employee Shonika Kwarteng is dedicated to serving Harris County families enrolled in the Head Start program through nutrition education. As the nutrition services manager, Kwarteng oversees all nutrition functions in the program and helps families develop and maintain healthy eating habits.
Free nutrition and health services are among the benefits provided to families of children enrolled in the HCDE Head Start program. While Kwarteng ensures children receive nutritiously adequate meals at the centers, she also works with Head Start performance standards to make sure children are screened, nutritional risks are handled and that children with food allergies and dietary needs are accommodated.
“Many of the services we offer Head Start families come through nutrition education,” said Kwarteng. “However, if a family identifies a need, we meet with them and complete a nutrition assessment–similar to what they would get in an outpatient setting.”
Kwarteng and her team also work with Head Start Education and Special Services to incorporate nutrition and healthy lifestyle topics into the curriculum. Students learn about healthy foods in the classroom and how healthy eating benefits their bodies.
The annual Head Start Food Science Fair is one example of adding nutrition into the curriculum. For a project each year, students select a fruit or vegetable and work with their families to create a healthy dish to be judged at the month’s Parent Policy Council Meeting.
“An additional layer to nutrition education is that our children are eating those foods in the classroom,” said Kwarteng. “Our goal is to show children a wide variety of nutritious foods and teach them the benefits of healthy eating from a young age. Hopefully they will build on that foundation in the future.”
March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. For more information, visit https://goo.gl/xGzfyS.
For information on HCDE Head Start services, visit www.hcde-texas.org/headstart.