With the motto “Let your food be your medicine,” EUPI Pedagogical Institute is implementing a comprehensive nutrition program in order to look out for the health of the 240 children and youth that attend the institution and to achieve higher academic performances.
The project began in October of 2012, and according to Eugenia Ovares, director of EUPI, the results are satisfactory. “We’ve achieved that the kids have improved in weight, reduced obesity and raised awareness among them about the need for healthy nutrition… The parents themselves are satisfied with the program,” she indicated.
The name EUPI is derived from the names of the school’s founders, Eugenia Ovares and Pilar Cardenas. The nutrition program is called EUPI-FRUTI and promotes the consumption of nutritious foods and avoiding junk foods or ones that cause an imbalance in the healthy development of children and youth. It encourages the consumption of fruit through a combination of smoothies, fruits and vegetables based on appealing and creative recipes.
Ovares considers it necessary to monitor the students’ diets since this affects their academic performance. “It is necessary that within the institution, we can align the nutritional aspect with academic programs, as the kids are in a process of formation in all areas.”
Teresa Zuluaga, the program coordinator, told us that what they want is to promote a healthy food culture in which the child becomes aware of why certain foods shouldn’t be consumed. “We are cultivating in them a culture so it has to be the best option… They are learning that, for example, grains should not be mixed with fruits and vegetables, that these should be consumed separately and that they should be wholegrain.”
Despite the challenges, Zuluaga related that some kids don’t eat breakfast at home so they can eat breakfast at school. “Some parents have even eaten breakfast here because the kids have suggested it,” she said.
One of the mothers, Adriana Quijano, said that, “To me, it seems important that here they also learn to eat and how to feed themselves properly. Nowadays with so much junk food sold on the street, it is important that they learn to consume a balanced diet.”