Hunger-Free Summer: City Harvest site visit

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This summer, I am partnering with the ConAgra Foods’ Hunger-Free Summer campaign with Feeding America. This summer, 26 food banks in 18 states will use Hunger-Free Summer grants, funded by the ConAgra Foods Foundation – ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 – to expand their summer feeding program, bringing more healthy meals to more children during the summer. Their goal is to reach at least 25 percent more children in need during the summer than before, over the course of five years.

Part of my summer participation in this program I had an opportunity to visit a local City Harvest site in Washington Heights, New York City. I was able to see first hand one of their amazing Healthy Neighborhood programs, the family Nutrition Education Course in action.

City Harvest Nutrition Education Course learning

The Healthy Neighborhoods programs through City Harvest are working to put good nutritious food on the table for New Yorkers in need, and help inspire long-term change in the fight against hunger. The family nutrition education course I visited meets twice a week for five weeks, and had 10 moms and 15 kids participating. During the course City Harvest offers the attendees free nutrition education and activities focused on buying, preparing and eating healthy foods.

City Harvest Nutrition Education Course cooking

The kids loved using the blender to make fresh mango salsa to have with their healthy lunch. All of the ingredients for these meals have been donated by local partners found through City Harvest. The smells in the room were awesome. The kids and the parents are equally involved in the food prep process which instill the skills and confidence to prepare healthy meals.

City Harvest Nutrition Education cooking

The attendees were being educated on nutrition, learning about the fat content in a normal fast food meal and how it equals to tablespoons of Crisco. This boys face was priceless when he learned his dinner the previous night had as much fat as 10 tablespoons of Crisco. All the information they learn is given to them in a curriculum binder at the end of each class.

City Harvest Nutrition Education Course educationBesides food education and receiving a healthy meal for the day, the kids participated in fun games, coloring activities and yoga! The importance of educating these kids young is key, plus they look forward to this course every week.

City Harvest Nutrition Education Course Yoga

I had such an eye opening experience with City Harvest and if you are interested in donating click here or volunteering click here. For more information about the national Hunger-Free Summer program read about it below.

Hunger Free Summer – Background Information

  • This year, 26 food banks in 18 states are receiving Hunger Free Summer Grants, including the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
  • According to the USDA, when school is out, nearly 90 percent of children have limited or no access to the free or reduced-price meals they receive during the school year.
  • ConAgra Foods and Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks, created the Hunger Free Summer program in 2009, to help ensure that all children have access to nutritious meals year round — especially when school is out.
  • Half of ConAgra Foods Foundation’s $10 million commitment to Feeding America is dedicated to the Hunger Free Summer program to supplement and expand the base of existing summer feeding programs for children.
  • The funding from Hunger Free Summer grants enables non-profits to overcome barriers that stand between kids getting the nutritious food they need, by expanding summer programs to feed more meals to more children.
  • The program—now in its fifth year—has supported the delivery of more than 3.8 million meals and snacks to children struggling with hunger over the summer.

This post was sponsored but all opinions expressed here are my own.

TADA! Youth Theater Unsung and Heroes

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TADA! Youth Theater is for aspiring young New Yorkers of all backgrounds, who are interested in theater, to have the opportunity to explore and perform together in an educational, supportive and professional environment. Each year TADA! puts on a summer show, where the kids hard work is showcased for the public to see. TADA! shows are also perfect for the younger viewing audience, because the themes are relatable, the length is manageable and kids watching other kids performing is inspiring.

TADA! Youth Theater Sing, Dance and Act

This summer TADA! Youth Theater proudly presents an original family musical, Heroes and a dance-theater piece, Unsung, performed by kids for kids together at one performance with a brief pause in between the pieces.

Unsung & Heroes is now playing through August 1, 2014 

Unsung and Heroes

Unsung (part-one) is a world-premiere dance theater piece about the most daring thing for every kid: coming of age. The young performers are so talented and completely displayed their message through dance. It was a bit advanced for a 3 year old, but H still happily watched and said he liked it when it was done.

TADA Youth Theater Unsung

Part two is Heroes, a new musical based on the play by Tom Keegan and Davidson Lloyd. When the sun disappears, a group of kids learns what it means and what it takes to be brave. H loved Heroes, he totally followed along with the story, loved the boy band pop star scene and is still asking me questions about the kids almost a week later. I was even entertained and curious how the musical would end, the songs were catchy and the acting top notch.

TADA Youth Theater HEROES

THIS Saturday (July 26th) they are offering an exclusive chance for the kids in the audience to get in on the ACTion with their Audience InterACTive! Following the 4pm show. participants will join TADA! Teaching Artists on stage to learn some songs from the show and play theater games with the cast! H participated in this last week and it was awesome, he asks if he can put on a show and sing the Hero song multiple times a day, I am even catching myself sining the Hero song. Check out the YouTube video of the audience kids perfuming here.

TADA Youth Theater Audience InterACTive!

Even if you can’t make it this Saturday for the TADA! Audience InterACTive, seeing these amazing youth performers live will put a smile on your face and be a perfect way to introduce theater to your kids.

Show and ticket information can be found at www.tadatheater.com 

TADA! Theater is located at 15 West 28th St. 3rd Floor

I was provided tickets for the performance but as always all opinions expressed here are my own

 

Toddler summertime reading

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Summertime reading is important for kids of all ages. My toddler aged son does not read yet, but I make sure he spends 20 minutes of quiet time each day looking at books, and I read a minimum of three books to him every night. He was just given two new beautiful picture books from Parragon Books and he instantly fell in love with the sweet stories and gorgeous illustrations. His two new picture books are now in the daily rotation of favorite books and must reads.

Paragon children's books

The Sleepy Train is like a Summertime version of The Polar Express

Driver’s engine, clean and smart, Whistle blows, it’s time to start, Wheels are turning, lights aglow, ‘All aboard, and off we go!’ Join Bear and his friends on the cozy little Sleepy Train as it sets off on a magical night-time journey, all the way to the Land of Nod! In The Sleepy Train (ISBN 978-1-4723-4603-2, $6.99, 24 pp, hardback) by Mark Marshall, little bear and his friends get on the cozy little Sleepy Train as it sets off on a magical nighttime journey. This soothing story is the perfect ticket for bedtime! The also have an iTunes read-along version.

The sleepy Train picture book

Fans of Goodnight, Moon should checkout Goodnight Little One

If your kid is interested in animals and the moon, Goodnight Little One (ISBN 978-1-4723-4531-8, $7.99, 32 pp, hardback) is a perfect addition to your kids nighttime book collection. Goodnight Little One written by Margaret Wise Brown (legendary author of Goodnight, Moon) contains a sweet, calming, rhyming poem about some of my sons favorite animals: the little donkey, the little monkey, the silly sheep, the little pig, the wild young birds, the old black cat and her kittens. The soft illustrations by Rebecca Elliott keep him engaged from begging to end.

Goodnight Little One picture book

Check out the whole collection of Parragon children’s books here.

What are some of your kids favorite picture books, perfect for summertime reading?

Public transportation to the San Diego County Fair

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My Strange Family spent this beautiful sumer day at the San Diego County Fair. Knowing that San Diego traffic is always a mess, we decided to take public transportation to the fair in Del Mar. If you take public transportation to the San Diego Fair you receive huge discounts! The Fair Tripper is $15, and it includes round-trip fare on the COASTER and SPRINTER trains and BREEZE buses, a shuttle from the station to the Fair’s West Gate, and adult admission to the Fair (Regular adult admission alone is $14). It was so easy to take the train and the shuttle to the fair in Del Mar and the kids thought it was an extra special adventure, plus we hit zero traffic (unheard of the day before a holiday weekend).

San Diego Public Transportation with kids

Rides and fried food were the first priority once we were at the San Diego County Fair

Del Mar fair San Diego

H went on tons of kiddie rides that mostly go in circles. I am so glad he is 42 inches tall and can ride most of the attractions alone, I can’t stand rides that go in circles. From racing NASCAR’s (in a circle), to bumper boats (circles in water), to the Groovy Bus (that goes in circles), helicopters (up and down circles) and the choo choo train (circles while ringing a bell).

Kiddie rides at the fair

After H was dizzy from rides we re-fuled on sugary drinks and deep fried food

When I think of county fairs, deep fried anything is the first thing that comes to mind. Chicken Charlie’s sold totally fried avocados, chicken skins, triple decker Krispy Kreme cheeseburger, deep fried Klondike bar and much much more. I was sold on the deep fried chocolate and ice cream bar, lets just say it was awesome.

deep fried klondike bar

 

My husband went for the Texas Donut covered in Pop Rocks and a side of deep fried Snickers bar. The donut was fun, and H loved having pop rocks for the first time, we would pass on the deep fried Snickers bar next time (just too weird and sweet).

deep fried Snickers and poprock donut

We had a nice day at the San Diego County Fair, the location right on the waterfront makes for a nice breeze throughout the day. The Fair was also not too crowded for being July.

Do you have a favorite deep fried food?

Hunger-Free Summer, what you can do to help

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Summer break from school is typically a fun and exciting time, a nice change of routine and time to recharge when the weather is at its best. But, for many kids across the country any break from school equals a break form getting food. For many kids, free or reduced cost school meals have become a major source of basic nutrition. When schools close for the summer, many families struggle to fill the gap. And kids can’t be kids when they’re hungry.

Benefits of proper nutrition

Proper nutrition in a kids life allows them to be as physically and mentally healthy as possible. When a child is NOT hungry their energy increases and they have a healthier brain, these are all positive things, but how can we help to get the food to these kids during the summer?

Conagra Hunger free summer logo

Well this summer, I am partnering with the ConAgra Foods’ Hunger-Free Summer campaign with Feeding America. This summer, 26 food banks in 18 states will use Hunger-Free Summer grants, funded by the ConAgra Foods Foundation – ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 – to expand their summer feeding program, bringing more healthy meals to more children during the summer. Their goal is to reach at least 25 percent more children in need during the summer than before, over the course of five years.

Hunger-free Summer, what you can do to help

Feeding America Logo

  • View, like or share this video: ConAgra Foods has partnered with Kid President to help spread the Hunger-Free Summer message. For each action the ConAgra Foods Foundation will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America, up to one million meals.

  • Volunteer: While providing meals is a top priority, fun activities are also important in attracting children to feeding sites. During the summer, volunteers can help transport food, help an existing feeding site with lunch preparation and clean-up, or do activities with the children. Visit www.feedingamerica.org to find a nearby food bank in need of volunteers. I will be going to one in NYC in the next few weeks (let me know if you want to join me).
  • Learn: To learn more about the issue of child hunger, visit www.childhungerendshere.com and click on the “tacking action” tab.

I would love to hear any other ideas you might have, or have done to help in a Hunger-Free Summer.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Feeding America, all opinions expressed here are my own as always.

MAM Self sterilizing bottles

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Bottles, bottles and more bottles, when searching for baby bottles online I can find over a dozen different top named brands. The main difference in choosing the right bottle for your baby is if you prefer glass to plastic, drop-in bags or not, and clearly what bottle your baby will latch on to. Both of my kids latched on to the bottles I offered them, so I did not have to spend to much time trying multiple brands out on them. Bottle price points and accessories seem to be similar, Just slight differences in design, shapes, sizes and ease of parent use.

I have found the MAM bottles to be a step above the rest.

MAM Bottle Parts

After years of bottle usage, I have found the MAM bottles to be a step above the rest. MAM bottles have 5 parts total and are really easy to put together. The wide openings of the MAM bottle makes for easy cleaning, and the base is removable so all the milk remains stuck on the bottom of the bottle can be cleaned out 100%.

MAM bottles can be sterilized in the microwave in just 3 minutes

MAM Self sterilizing bottles can be sterilized in 3 easy steps, in the microwave, in just 3 minutes! So, save your money on those fancy sterilizing machines, and save your time boiling up pots and pots of water. Plus this sterilizing feature makes the MAM bottles perfect for travel.

The most popular first MAM bottles are the 5oz and 8oz sizes

MAM self sterilizing bottlesMAM bottles come in multiple sizes, the most popular are the 5oz and 8oz. However, once your baby is consuming more milk each meal you can size up to the 9oz and 11oz bottles. The best thing about MAM bottles is they grow with you kid, once your kid is ready to use a training cup the bottles can be easily converted.

Besides bottles MAM makes pacifiers, teethers and oral care products

All of the MAM products are high quality and up to date on all of the safety standards. Founded in Vienna, Austria in 1976, MAM offers real solutions for real parenting with an award-winning range of smart and simple products. A global leader in the baby care category, MAM’s mission is to combine the best in technological innovation, medically sound function and contemporary design to provide innovative baby care products essential for a child’s early years. MAM is sold in over 30 countries and five continents. For more information about MAM products, please visit www.mambaby.com.

MAM Baby bottle

I was provided with samples for review purposes, but all opinions expressed here are my own.