Posted by: acbuildingblocks | June 1, 2012

Money (and Food) Savvy Youth

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-Written by Nora Downs, Food to Families (F2F) Intern

A couple of Hoover Elementary 5th graders remember EBALDC’s Tina Eng from last school-year and get excited: “Are we going to do the same thing we did last year and get $50?!” Tina teaches EBALDC’s Money Savvy Youth curriculum to 4th and 5th graders inOakland. She teaches the students about spending, saving, and budgeting—basically, how to be money savvy! And upon completion of the 5-week MSY course, each participant earns a $50 savings bond.

This class is a little different, though. After receiving a Food To Families Mini-grant, MSY’s lesson on budgeting became more food-focused. Instead of teaching about needs and wants with electronic devices, Tina now uses food. Choosing hot chips versus yogurt was today’s example. And to boot, the students get to taste a Popeye Smoothie made with healthy ingredients. Naturally, one of those ingredients is spinach—why else would it be called a Popeye Smoothie?!

Different tables have different tasks—measuring, distributing/collecting, and cutting up fruit. As Tina introduces the ingredients, she talks about why they are good for the 5th graders’ growing bodies—Vitamin C in the strawberries; protein and calcium in the yogurt; potassium in the bananas; Vitamins C & K in the blueberries; and calcium, Vitamins A, C, K, & Folate in the raw spinach.  What does that mean for the kids? Well, if they continue to eat this kind of food, it’s likely that their bones will stay strong, their muscles won’t cramp, they’ll have good night vision, their wounds will heal quickly, and their blood cells will form without a hitch—no funky-sized red blood cells (or as the nutritionist in me wants to say, Megaloblastic Anemia) here!

Money Savvy Youth classes teach the students not only to budget for “needs” first and “wants” second, but also how to budget for health. The 4th and 5th graders who participate in the program learn that staying healthy will cut down on health costs later, though this might hit home more for their parents and teachers. As the final activity, the students “go grocery shopping” for their families, using food models to choose one food each food group (fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy). They must navigate through “unhealthy traps” to make a budget-friendly shopping cart. Most of the students do a great job.

But the highlight of food-related classes is always the tasting. When asked to review the smoothie, one student said, “It tasted like strawberries grown from heaven. The spinach didn’t make it taste nasty at all!”

Check out EBALDC’s web site for more information on Money Savvy Youth and other EBALDC projects: http://www.ebaldc.org/pg/39/neighborhood-economic-development/money-savvy-youth

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