The Secret Ingredient is LOVE! FLIPANY Makes Healthy Choices Fun and Engaging for Youth

“Food glorious food! We’re anxious to try it.” While these lyrics help create the perfect opening number for the Broadway classic “Oliver!”, for many children, the thought of trying certain foods is a daunting task. Raise your hand if you remember your parents telling you to eat your vegetables so you could grow up big and strong. Keep it raised if you remember any of the tactics you used to try to avoid this request. Maybe you tried to hide your peas under your mashed potatoes, fed them to your favorite pet or simply insisted that you don’t like peas even though you never actually tried them. While few will argue that they prefer peas to pizza, no one can argue that a balanced diet is an absolutely essential ingredient for living a healthy life.  

Prime Time’s expanded learning opportunity partner FLIPANY (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth) created their cooking matters offering with this in mind. Each afterschool session combines elements of nutrition education, physical activity and social-emotional learning through hands-on cooking lessons. Youth in attendance not only learn about, but get to prepare and try new foods made with healthy ingredients.  

FLIPANY instructor Jacquelyn Stormer is no stranger to teaching youth the importance of health and wellness. For the past 18 years she has shared her passion for living a healthy lifestyle with her children as a highly active, health conscientious and involved parent. When she realized she could combine her passion for health and her love for youth into a meaningful career, she jumped at the opportunity.  

“There is something magical about children’s energy and outlook. Their love for life, natural curiosity about everything and anything, and adaptability to change is contagious and makes my job fun and meaningful. Acting as a facilitator for healthy transformation is truly aligned with my passion and purpose in life.” – Jacquelyn Stormer, FLIPANY Instructor 

Prime Time was able to join U.B. Kinsey / Palmview Elementary Afterschool Program in West Palm Beach for a hands-on lesson on making blueberry pancakes. Youth first learned about fiber as an important nutrient to help them feel fuller longer and focus in school. They participated in every step of the process, from chopping fruit toppings, to measuring and mixing all the ingredients to even flipping their pancakes on the griddle. It goes without saying that everyone’s favorite step of the afternoon, was eating their healthy treats together, but not before they were topped with a dollop of whipped cream. When Jacqueline took a quick poll of the youth to hear what they thought of this healthier take on traditional pancakes, she heard several enthusiastic responses, then made sure to remind the youth that they made these with her help and that they included the most important ingredient: love. 

It is something special to see a child smile and say thank you for the meal and express how hungry they were and/or how much they enjoyed learning about nutrition, participating in preparing the meal and eating together. I believe the best component and ingredient for success and satiety is love. – Jacquelyn Stormer, FLIPANY Instructor 

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“It is my hope that through my focused attention and shared passion for health and wellness, children will be inspired to implement the knowledge, tools and resources offered to them and feel a sense of personal empowerment to lead healthy, happy lifestyles that can also inspire others to do the same.” – Jacquelyn Stormer, FLIPANY Instructor 

One of the most famous chefs in America, Guy Fieri once said “Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.”   

These words ring true, as food is one of the very few things in life that exists as a universal experience. What we eat, where we eat and the company we share while we eat my differ, but we all have this same mutual need, which creates opportunities to use food as a means of creating meaningful connections. This becomes even more vital for youth in underserved communities, as nutritional education and access to nutritious meals can be limited. For this reason, organizations like FLIPANY are so valuable to the youth in our communities. They not only bring nutritious and tasty meals to youth, but leave a lasting impression by showing them that they are capable of understanding their nutritional needs and preparing their own healthy meals with their families at home.  

For some youth, the meals we prepare together are the only ones they eat all day, It is something special to see a child smile, and say thank you for the meal and express how hungry they were and/or how much they enjoyed learning about nutrition, participating in preparing the meal and eating together. I believe the best component and ingredient for success and satiety is love – – Jacquelyn Stormer, FLIPANY Instructor 

Food is a universal experience that we all experience differently. FLIPANY is doing their part to create better experiences for youth, their families, and in turn, their communities, by stressing the importance of living a healthy lifestyle fueled by a healthy diet. Youth in attendance love learning about it, especially when they get to see and taste the difference in each session. It’s an experience that creates lasting memories for youth and instructors alike.  

Many children get very excited to share their healthy eating habits or lifestyle with the class (or myself) and I love hearing the many ways they can relate to the lessons or already incorporate the concepts into their daily routine. Sometimes, I even learn new things from my students about fruits or vegetables that I have never heard of or tasted before, so it’s a mutually immersive learning experience. Of course, the best is when they give me a hug after class and say they love me! Melts my heart. – Jacquelyn Stormer, FLIPANY Instructor 

This, of course, is just one of the countless examples of how out-of-school time programming can create fun and hands-on educational experiences for children and youth beyond school hours. The importance of this time between school ends and home life begins cannot be overstated.  

Having an afterschool program like FLIPANY available to students offers a valuable resource to direct children’s attention on important concepts and principles that are essential for a balanced, healthy lifestyle. It is critical to introduce lessons and activities as early as possible in a fun and interactive way so they can develop their skills and abilities and begin shaping healthy habits early on and build a strong foundation for long-term wellness. – Jacquelyn Stormer, FLIPANY Instructor 

Prime Time strives to provide children and youth with a wide range of hands-on learning experiences. In partnership with local content expert organizations, Prime Time makes available expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) to eligible afterschool and summer programs. In 2020-2021, Prime Time offered 136,829 learning experiences that impacted 50,001 youth between October 2020 and September 2021. 

To learn more about FLIPANY and Prime Time’s full menu of expanded learning opportunity providers, click here.