2015 Excellence in Community Service Award Presented for Healthy Snack Challenge

Medical City Children’s Hospital was recently presented the Texas Hospital Association’s 2015 Excellence in Community Service Award recognizing its kids teaching kids program.

The kids teaching kids program educates students and parents about developing lifelong healthy snacking and eating habits. Medical City Children’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Keith Zimmerman, accepted the award on behalf of the hospital during the THA 2016 Annual Conference and Expo in Dallas on January 22.

“We thought this was something where we could take a leadership role by teaching children healthy eating habits on the front end, rather than treating the disease on the back end,” said Keith Zimmerman, FACHE, CEO of Medical City Children’s Hospital.

Reflecting soaring rates of obesity nationwide in recent decades, one-third of children in Texas were overweight or obese in 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 27 percent of daily calories are consumed as snacks, often with low nutritional value. Medical City Children’s Hospital saw an opportunity to impact childhood obesity.

“As hospitals begin to focus more and more on population health, it’s important to create innovative programs that keep Texans healthy,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Medical City Children’s Hospital’s kids teaching kids program does just that by reaching children in an informative yet fun way.”

The hospital launched kids teaching kids in 2010. To maximize the impact, Medical City Children’s Hospital partnered with the Texas Restaurant Association and some of its local chapters, including the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association (GDRA), as well as with high schools taking part in Texas ProStart, TRA’s culinary and restaurant education program. Texas ProStart culinary students work with Medical City Children’s Hospital registered dietitians to learn about nutrition, food labels and calculating nutritional content in recipes. Then they create fun snack recipes, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, that elementary-aged children can prepare. In addition, Medical City Children’s Hospital and the GDRA work with local restaurants to incorporate snack recipes from kids teaching kids into a new menu for children, the Kids Fit Menu.

Students in participating independent school districts have been encouraged to take part in a 21-day challenge in which they must prepare and eat a healthy snack from an approved recipe source each day for 21 consecutive days. Research shows that roughly three weeks of repeated activity is what it takes to establish a new habit.

The efforts are paying off. 

Before the 2014-15 school year project began, only 55.5 percent of students surveyed said they read the information on the nutrition facts label on food products. Afterward, 90 percent said they did.

More than 40,000 North Texas school children are enrolled in the 21 day challenge that began in January 2016.

For more information about the Medical City Children’s Hospital kids teaching kids program, visit kids-teaching-kids.com.