The Torrance Council of PTAs recognized Torrance Memorial Medical Center's "Healthy Ever After" school nutrition program with its Honorary Service Award at a special ceremony at the Ken Miller Recreation Center. The program was highlighted for promoting healthy eating and lifestyles for children and youth in the community. The PTA presents the Honorary Service Award annually to recognize individuals, businesses, or organizations that exemplify dedication to children and youth.
The "Healthy Ever After Program" was created in January of 2012 in collaboration with the Torrance Unified School District and funded by Torrance Memorial's Lundquist Cardiovascular Institute. According to Lauren Choi, M.D., Torrance Memorial Medical Center endocrinologist, the pediatric obesity epidemic, caused in part by the consumption of processed food and decreased physical activity, has triggered an increase in metabolic syndrome at younger ages. Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.
Through "Healthy Ever After," Torrance Memorial's pediatric nutritionists created a multi-tiered curriculum for parent docents to teach in the classroom. Lessons include proper food portioning, appropriate exercise and the development of a campus garden/farmer's market, from which the school cafeteria makes purchases. The idea is to help children make the connection from the earth to the table that will influence their nutritional choices, with the intention of lowering the rate of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in the population.
To date, "Healthy Ever After" has reached approximately 5,700 students. It was created as part of Torrance Memorial's Community Benefit program, which serves the needs of South Bay's residents through the donation of programs and services. Parents receive nutritional lessons from registered pediatric dietician, Emily Parker, M.S., R.D., five times a year; after the lessons, the parents educate their children about healthy eating.
"Children are responsive to this program and go home and tell their parents what they learned and show their parents healthier ways of preparing meals. The battle of candy vs. fruits and vegetables stops at this program. Kids learn that eating fruits and vegetables can be just as delicious and just as enjoyable as eating sweets," "Healthy Ever After" Program Coordinator, Helaine Lopes, Ph.D., said.
Local schools that have adopted the program include Riviera, Hickory, Arnold, and Edison Elementary Schools.
Additional honorees at the ceremony include Janet Tajii, president, Torrance City Council of PTAs, and the Torrance/South-Bay YMCA.