I hope you really enjoy this page with tons of information and free resources from the nonprofit that I founded in 2008, Nurture.
I invite you to read the story about how and why Nurture was founded, what we do with our fun programs, and how you might bring the benefits into your own home, school, or community.
Take your time going through this page, even bookmark it, as there are so many downloadable resources you can enjoy to achieve a happier, healthier and more energetic life.
What is the Mission of Nurture?
Nurture envisions communities working in collaborative ways to enhance the nutrition and wellness of children and families.
Nurture provides educational materials to support learning in a fun, hands-on way. Our goal is to promote healthy life-long habits. Our programs have often been described as "nutrition education disguised as fun adventures".
We love the ancient Chinese proverb:
Give a person a fish and feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and feed them for a lifetime.
Where did the inspiration
for Nurture come from?
Back when my two kiddos were still in the stroller age, I went on weekly “walk and talks” with my dad. He and I always took the time to catch up on life, but we also had many discussions about nutrition and health. My dad had been chairman of the biochemistry and anatomy departments at the Chicago Medical School. It was the mid-2000s, and I was in the middle of my studies for my certification in nutritional counseling.
“Have you read any of the latest statistics about Type 2 diabetes?” my dad asked.
“Yes. It is amazing how much the incidence of diabetes is increasing,” I answered. “The estimate is that one out of three children will develop diabetes if we continue to eat the standard American diet. One out of three!”
We had just stopped at a park to let my antsy kids get out and play. They were in the sandbox with a third child. I looked at them and thought: Standard American Diet — S.A.D.
One out of three of those children in the sandbox would likely get diabetes if they eat the Standard American Diet?
That is sad.
“Dad, why do you think this is happening in our country?”
“Time, money, and know-how, I suppose. People don’t think they have enough money to afford good food, don’t know how to prepare it, and don’t feel like they have the time to help themselves. That is why fast food and processed foods are taking over.”
“But, Dad, when I was in graduate school, I didn’t have time or money. With my rice cooker and slow cooker, I lived off whole grains, lentils, beans, and fruits and veggies. I stayed healthy.”
I recalled the parties I used to have on Wednesday nights in my 450 square foot apartment in Austin. I’d make rice and beans, and we’d gather around to watch Melrose Place on TV.
“Maybe I could put together a program that teaches people how to use those tools to start cooking healthy meals again,” I suggested to my dad. “We could give them rice cookers and slow cookers to help them save time and make it easy to prepare healthy meals. We could focus first on low-income families; they are the ones that studies show are disproportionately affected by nutritional disease.”
“Write it down,” my dad said.
And that vision—of a program to improve the nutrition and health of families through education—was what I wrote down. Once I wrote those thoughts down, the universe started to do its part by placing people and opportunities in my path. Within a month, I had met a registered dietitian and a director of a clinical studies organization with a doctorate in nutrition, who both wanted to make the idea a reality.
We called it Nurture, an acronym for Nutritional Upgrading Realized Through Underwriting, Resources, and Education. Within three months, I had a larger group of people dedicated to making it work. Within six months, I had start-up funds and our first program in place with the local food pantry.
Check out these fun videos that tell our story:
Our work with food pantries
Our after school programs
Our work with schools
How did Nurture Evolve?
Over the next few years, Nurture was invited to work with kids in the school setting, which provided ways to reach children in larger groups.
Over a number of years, we developed a nutrition education curriculum that matches the Common Core Standards so that teachers are now able to more easily integrate the lessons into their busy school day.
I noticed that one of the most popular lessons for Elementary school kiddos was something that became known as “Rainbow Days”.
RAINBOW DAYS provide an opportunity for kids to learn in a fun, hands-on way about the importance of eating a colorful variety of fruits and veggies.
SEE A RAINBOW DAY IN ACTION:
Teachers and parents love how Rainbow Days change the behavior of the kiddos, who start enjoying more veggies in fruits in their snacks and lunches. So that these positive changes would “stick” over time, I published a series of children’s books (Give It a Go, Eat a Rainbow, and Where Does a Rainbow Grow?) to allow the kids to experience the fun in an on-going way.
Parents also need support in changing the dynamics around food at home. To support the powerful parent/child combination, I wrote a book for parents, Make Nutrition Fun: End Food Fights and Find Family Peace in Just 30 Days.
Click here for a free 30-day calendar of recipes and activities that you can do with your kiddos at home – as well as a fun recipe database, an online course with Registered Dietician Juliette Britton, and many other helpful resources I think you’ll enjoy.
What is in Nurture's
set of curricula?
Over the past decade-plus, Nurture has developed curricula across diverse areas including adults (workshops tailored to pre-natal, post-natal), teens (teen mothers, getting teens in the kitchen), and kids programs.
Nurture's curricula are primarily focused on nutrition topics, but we also have curricula related to physical activity, sleep, limiting screen time, and mindfulness.
Our involvement spans from single-day workshops (for parents, teachers, or kids assembly style) to a series of class visits, to in-depth training on our extensive set of materials matched to Common Core Standards for grades 1-5.
We can also train your program manager and provide everything from program waivers, a budget template, teaching materials, recipes, and more.
Browse some of our favorite lessons below, and be in touch with questions or requests via our contact form at the bottom of this page.
Some favorite lessons:
What are the results
of the Nurture program?
We’ve got reams of data through our pre-and post-program assessments, but I’ll share the highlights with you here:
Nurture Participants Enjoy:
Increased consumption of FRUITS & VEGGIES
A preference for WATER over sugary beverages
FUN cooking experiences at home using whole and healthy foods
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, you can see the smiling faces and hear the enthusiasm in the voices of these Nurture participants:
Does Nurture appreciate
Yes, of course!
Nurture is a 501c3 organization and we exist thanks to the generosity of our donors.
Your donation goes directly to program materials, food, and supplies that make our fun programs come to life! You are welcome to make a donation to a specific program (a school, a social service agency, a garden, a community, etc.) and we can provide customized updates to you about that specific program.
If you choose to make a contribution, your donation is fully tax-deductible.
If you believe in the importance of nutrition and cooking education, there is no better way to make a difference in the world than directly funding a Nurture program.
Your donation can be made electronically or via check:
Checks can be sent to:
PO Box 2240
Sun Valley, ID 83353
For your Support and Generosity!
How Can I Stay in Touch
about Your Work at Nurture?
You can reach out directly to me and the Nurture team via this contact form.
Be sure to let us know what kind of additional information you are interested in (Curricula? Ordering books or materials in bulk? Volunteering for a local program?).
I also encourage you to sign up for the Make Everything Fun newsletter below. I send out fun tips and education every month!