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Stop & Shop hosted “Healthy Teen Summit” in New Haven

Charles O'Donnell, moderator of Stop & Shop's Healthy Teen Summit at the Whalley Avenue store, explaining the benefits of eating nutritious foods to a student from Hillhouse High School.
Charles O'Donnell, moderator of Stop & Shop's Healthy Teen Summit at the Whalley Avenue store, explaining the benefits of eating nutritious foods to a student from Hillhouse High School.

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC sponsored a “Healthy Teen Summit” at the Stop & Shop located at 150 Whalley Avenue in New Haven on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm. 

A panel of local teenage students from Hillhouse High School, Cooperative Arts and Humanities, Metropolitan Business Academy and Betsy Ross Arts School discussed how food issues impact their lives and advised fellow teenagers on making healthier food choices.  Since many students have had limited instruction on basic nutrition the Summit focused on the five types of foods highlighted by MyPlate.gov nutrition recommendations.   It also included specific information about how food production, additives, and preservatives can affect the quality of nutrition and how that impacts nutritional value in the human body. 

“Many teenagers, whether underserved or affluent, have difficulty choosing healthy food and don’t fully understand the ramifications of not eating healthy.  They are familiar with the different food groups but have limited understanding of how respective food groups function in the human body. Students have been told about the importance of eating healthy, but many lack sufficient knowledge on how to read and interpret food labels and many students also lack cooking skills,” said Kate Walton, community relations coordinator for Stop & Shop.

"Healthy eating habits profoundly impact quality of life so it is important for the community to work together in helping teenagers eat healthy," said Anne Demchak, Stop & Shop Store Manager. "Every day I watch young people choosing food that really is not the best for their growing bodies and long term health.  At Stop & Shop, we readily accept the challenge to help teens eat better.  The supermarket plays an important role in providing a wide variety of healthy food choices.  Millions of customers shop our stores weekly so we have a unique opportunity to help families right where food purchasing decisions are made,” Demchak added.

Following the panel discussion a unique scavenger hunt called “Hunger Games” took place.

Students (aka “Hunters”) used their knowledge of the five food groups to select enough of each type of food to have complete and healthy nutrition for one day.  Each “Hunter” was provided with a shopping cart, store map and “My Plate” diagram and selected their products and also avoided the four symbols of metabolic disease while roaming in the store aisles.  The contents of the cart must end up containing the needed percentage of food types in the best nutrition rich form that conforms to “My Plate” recommendations.

During the event, a local group called KIDZKOOK conducted a cooking demonstration and shared easy healthy recipes that teens can prepare themselves.  Tenille Murphy, founder of KIDZKOOK, started her program after realizing how many kids don’t know how to cook at all, and don’t realize how easy it is to make something healthy and delicious.

Charles O’Connell, a Hillhouse High and University of Pennsylvania graduate, served as moderator of the panel.  Mr. O’Connell is Head Track and Field Coach at Hopkins School and Founder of FITSCRIPT LLC at Science Park, an exercise center dedicated to helping people with diabetes manage their health.  Following the “Hunger Games”, O’Connell lead a “Power Shopping Tour” of the store highlighting “power” foods as well as offering quick and simple ways to prepare them.

Representatives from several youth and health organizations were present at the event with resource tables, educational information and local opportunities for teenagers.  This was a free public event and was sponsored by Stop & Shop in keeping with its Healthy Ideas campaign.

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