September 17, 2013

By Celia Ruiz

Sesame Street’s Food for Thought Initiative in Action

Celia Ruiz is a bilingual community outreach specialist for UnitedHealthcare Community and State in Overland Park, Kansas. Through her work she uses Sesame Street’s Food for Thought kit and was kind enough to write about it. To learn more about the ways Sesame Workshop promotes healthy eating in under-served communities, click here.

work for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of  Kansas.  We have partnered with Sesame Street’s Food for Thought program as a way to help our families live healthier lives.  I have been fortunate enough to present this program to children and their families in medical clinics, health departments, Head Start programs and community events.

When I first glanced through the Sesame Street Food for Thought Kit, I immediately fell in love with the children’s book.  This was the first time that I had seen the mentioning of a food pantry in a children’s book.  Big Bird and his friends address eating healthy on a limited budget with much respect, dignity and fun!  It was then that I knew that the Food for Thought program would truly help our families.

It is amazing to see how the program helps families start a conversation for healthy eating and transition that conversation into action.  After the presentations, families have shared what they’ve learned with their children.

  • ‘See, I buy healthy food for you because I want you to be strong.’
  • ‘That was great!  We can make the tuna salad tonight, together.’
  • ‘I am doing my part so we can eat healthy.  Elmo wants you to do your part.’

The Food for Thought Tuna Salad Sandwich has been by far, the biggest hit amongst families.  Children, teenagers and adults were surprised as to how easy and great tasting the tuna salad is.  I was very happy to hear a teenager say, ‘Wow, that’s good!  I have tuna at home.  I can make this myself.’

Other adults have said this is something they can make in the morning, so the children will always have a complete meal or snack throughout the day.

When given the tools along with respect and interaction, we are all capable of doing amazing things.  I am confident that the families we have met are doing amazing things.   They are parents, grandparents and adults that want healthier lives for their children and it is an honor to be a part of their journey.

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