Starting young with a love of healthy fish

May 26, 2014 by Christina Williams
Starting young with a love of healthy fish

"Who's had salmon before?" Portland State community health researcher Betty Izumi asks her small and wiggly audience. 

One toddler arm is raised, another is tentative, a third looks at his toes. 

"Who knows where comes from?" Izumi poses. 

"'Laska!" comes the confident reply. 

The 3-year-old student at PSU's Helen Gordon Child Development Center is a well-informed pioneer. She and her classmates are the first to be studying salmon in a curriculum for pre-schoolers developed by Izumi's Harvest for Healthy Kids program. 

Through pictures, and hands-on activities involving salmon skin (proclaimed: oily!) and salmon eggs (tiny but very sticky!), a salmon costume (funny!) and even a taste of smoked salmon (yummy!), the curriculum is designed to instill an interest and appreciation for salmon among pre-schoolers in the hopes that they will bring this enthusiasm home and share it with their parents. 

Harvest for Healthy Kids began as a partnership led by Izumi between PSU and Mt. Hood Community College's Head Start program to expose young children to healthy foods. The Helen Gordon Child Development Center provided a handy place to test the new curriculum and fit in with the center's focus on healthy foods.

Starting young with a love of healthy fish

"The HGCDC nutrition program strives to cultivate an appreciation for food and where it comes from while providing opportunities for children to become engaged with cooking and food," said Ellie Justice HGCDC's Director. "We are delighted to begin a new partnership that aligns so well with these goals."

The salmon unit tested at Helen Gordon Center culminated with a lunch prepared by the school's cook Deb Sesnsenbach who brought the salmon from the fridge to show the students in the classroom. 

The salmon, in addition to some of the educational props, came from Iliamna Fish Company, a Portland-based community-supported fishery that fishes for salmon in Alaska's Bristol Bay every summer. 

Iliamna isn't the only Alaska connection. Izumi, who's done research in the 49th state, developed the salmon unit in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for Alaska Native Health Research as part of a program called Fish to Schools. 

"The goal of the Fish to Schools project is to connect Native and independently owned and operated fish businesses with K-12 schools in Alaska," Izumi said. "The salmon unit builds on the success we've had with Harvest for Healthy Kids, which until now, has focused on promoting fruit and vegetable intake through in-class education, foodservice modifications, and family engagement."

Starting young with a love of healthy fish

The salmon unit will be deployed in Alaska this fall and materials will be publicly available on the Harvest for Healthy Kids website for free at www.harvestforhealthykids.org. 

Izumi would also like to see salmon included in preschool curricula and meals across Oregon, including the Helen Gordon Center, where her own daughter attends class and enjoys the creative food program.

"Deb does so much more than cook food for the kids. She works hard to help kids make connections between the food and where it comes from," Izumi says. 

Explore further: Genetic chip will help salmon farmers breed better fish

Related Stories

Genetic chip will help salmon farmers breed better fish

February 13, 2014
Atlantic salmon production could be boosted by a new technology that will help select the best fish for breeding.

Recommended for you

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.