The goal of the Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative, which is supported by The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. and its member Leagues, is to empower youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.
Program Elements to Date
The initiative, which began in 2006, engages kids in the preparation of healthy meals and educates them and their parents regarding nutrition and healthy choices. Junior Leagues in more than 255 locations provide lessons and demonstrations related to preparation of healthy meals and snacks in partnership with local community organizations, chefs and nutritionists. The Association of Junior Leagues International provides guidelines and materials to support the success of these educational and motivational activities and supports the program with a website, www.kidsinthekitchen.org. The website includes bilingual recipes, tips on nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles as well as an interactive “Kids’ Corner” with an online nutrition game provided by Kids in the Kitchen international sponsor, Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network also provides support for the program’s local activities as well as Public Service Announcements to increase traffic to the website.
Over 255 Leagues in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted the Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen program in their communities in 2007.
Educational Partners and Supporters
- Cartoon Network’s® “Get Animated”
- American Dietetic Association (ADA)
- Batter Up Kids!
- Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC)
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s “We Can!”
- School Nutrition Association
- Share Our Strength
- Texas Dept of Agriculture’s “Square Meals”
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control
Outreach and Results
In 2006 and 2007 to date, over 200 million people have been reached with messages about the Kids in the Kitchen program and ways to fight the spread of childhood obesity through Public Service Announcements and media coverage. Volunteer national spokespersons, Abby Ellin, author of Teenage Waistland, and George Stella, former Food Network chef and author of Eating Stella Style, have appeared on numerous television programs. In addition, AJLI President, Sandi Kemmish, discussed the initiative in an interview for Sky Radio, which aired on Northwest and American Airlines in March and April. League leaders and local spokespersons have also been featured on television and in print media. The Kids in the Kitchen website attracted over 50,000 unique visitors per month during the height of the media outreach in National Nutrition Month (March) and continues to reach visitors throughout the year. Close to two million people have played the interactive nutrition game.
The Junior Leagues, supported by Cartoon Network and its educational partners, are expanding this initiative in 2009.