School’s out for summer in the Sacramento area, but in a classroom at Williamson Elementary School in Rancho Cordova one recent Thursday morning, cooking class was in session.
About 20 parents gathered around nurse practitioner Carrie Beale and pediatrician Catherine Vigran, MD, both from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices in Rancho Cordova, Calif., for a demonstration of how to put together an inexpensive and healthy meal.
“This package of tofu costs only $1.50,” Beale said. “We’re going to show you how you can combine tofu with other foods to get twice the amount of protein you had before.”
Beale, Dr. Vigran and a few parent volunteers cooked the tofu on a stovetop, then added scrambled eggs and placed the creation on a warm corn tortilla. Other parents sliced and diced a mixture of oranges, plums, cilantro, red bell peppers and jalapenos to top it off. Parent Krishna Dachepalli said she was inspired by the demonstration.
“It’s important to be healthy,” she added.
Keeping Kids Safe, Active, Well-Nourished, and Learning
The cooking demonstration is part of a summer lunch program and day camp put on each year by the Folsom Cordova Unified School District and supported by Kaiser Permanente. The summer lunch program feeds about 160 children a healthy breakfast and lunch each day. As many as 60 students attend the day camps.
The program’s director, Linda Burkholder, said Kaiser Permanente’s investments have been instrumental in funding the program’s parent education, as well as the healthy eating and physical activity programming for kids.
“You folks are rock stars as far as I’m concerned,” Burkholder wrote in an email describing how Kaiser Permanente supports the school district’s summer programs.
The Folsom Cordova program is one of dozens around the region that Kaiser Permanente supports to keep kids safe, active, well-nourished and learning during the summer.
Preventing Summer Learning Loss
Across Northern California, Kaiser Permanente funds the Summer Matters Campaign, which provides learning programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math for children in low-income schools. Kaiser Permanente also supports a similar program called Central Enrichment Summer Adventures in Fresno. And in the East Bay, Kaiser Permanente supports several summer programs, including Camp Breathe Easy in Livermore, a summer camp for children living with asthma; YES Family and Summer Camp for children in Richmond; Building Blocks for Kids, which leads physical activities for children at a summer lunch program in Richmond; and Rosie’s Girls Summer Camp, a Richmond day camp for middle school girls that explores the skilled trades.
Glenda Monterroza, a community benefit specialist for Kaiser Permanente in the East Bay, said Kaiser Permanente supports summer programs for kids, because many low-income families can’t afford to send their kids to summer camps.
“These kids need to continue learning during the summer, so they don’t experience the summer learning loss that comes from being away from school,” she said. “It’s also important to get them outdoors and physically active.”
Keeping Kids Moving
Kaiser Permanente supports a number of other summer programs designed to keep young people active.
In South Sacramento, the organization has invested in the Summer Night Lights program at a new community center. The program is designed to bring families and young people together to have dinner, play sports and reduce violence in the community.
Kaiser Permanente also supports the San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks Out-of-School-Time program that provides free, drop-in athletic programs for children ages 5 to 12 years of age.
And in Fresno, for the second year in a row, a Kaiser Permanente grant will ensure that five city pools stay open this summer. The funding will also provide morning swim lessons for more 700 neighborhood children. Jeff Collins, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente in Fresno, said the organization wanted to make sure children had a safe place to be active this summer.
“We saw how highly utilized these pools were last year,” he said. “We wanted to make sure Fresno children could enjoy the pools again this summer.”