Best Food FITS program promotes healthy diets in kid-friendly ways

By Jordan Gass-Pooré
University News Service
June 29, 2011

The Best Food for Families, Infants and Toddlers program at Texas State University-San Marcos is changing the way San Marcos residents eat, one cooking class and restaurant menu at a time.

Best Food FITS wants to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables San Marcos residents are consuming and decrease the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages. The program has worked with more than 25 local restaurants in changing their children’s menu to address child obesity.

“We want to make the healthy choice the easy choice in San Marcos,” Nicole Baker, Best Food FITS project coordinator, said.

Local restaurants like Cool Mint Café, Grins and Garcia’s provide the Best Food FITS children’s menu as an option.

Families looking to stay healthy at home can attend a Best Food FITS cooking class. The free community cooking classes are held in the Chapultepec Adult Learning Center at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Classes are taught by Texas State Nutrition and Food students.

Baker said the Best Food FITS program is hoping to expand to area daycares and school districts. She said program representatives have gone to area daycare Imagination Station and conducted surveys with the children to teach them about healthy eating habits.

Best Food FITS was started by Texas State Department of Consumer Sciences professors BJ Friedman and Sylvia Crixell. Friedman and Crixell used grant funds from the Texas Department of State Health Services to implement free community cooking classes and educational presentations at the Chapultepec Adult Learning Center.

The Texas State Nutrition and Foods Program donated four fully stocked kitchens that included appliances, cooking materials, a commercial refrigerator, freezer, tables and chairs. Baker said the Best Food FITS goals have been adapted by a group in San Antonio.

“(Best Food FITS) is really gaining momentum and we hope to continue going forward,” Baker said.