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Revolutionizing Food Education for the Digital Age

View the original version of this article on HuffPost Education

As Congress continues, yet again, to postpone the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act debate on what children should eat in school, we at KickinNutrition.TV are trying to offer Generation-Z a way to learn about healthy eating, cooking and fitness that appeals to their digital navigation of the world.

Pilot tested and evaluated in 2014, in collaboration with a team of experts from Boston University and with expertise of advisors from Harvard School of Public Health and Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, KickinNutrition.TVoffers a fresh entertaining dish where teens are teaching kids about food.

The program features scripted comedy storylines, teen characters, celebrities and engaging cooking & nutrition videos, along with opportunities for fun interactive learning through gaming and social media. See Co-Star, STACY as she challenges her friends to a “Drinking Contest!”

Kids are loving the program’s video game, StudenTopia where teenage avatars take over of their school cafeteria. Kids earn badges and rewards for engagement as they move from “Dishwasher Level” to “Top Chef Level” and students can share recipes, photos and videos with their classmates in the “Shared Kitchen,” a safe online environment.

Celebrity guests appear in episodes such as, rising superstar, Jared Sullinger of the Boston Celtics, NFL 2011 MVP, Greg Jennings, and celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud, and soon, Mario Batali will prepare a kid-friendly, healthy recipe. As you will see, all the celebs have a lot of fun with the program.

The Mario Batali Foundation announced support to distribute KNTV at no cost for New York City Title 1 schools during 2015-2016, along with generous support from the Heckscher Foundation for Children.

The inspiration for KickinNutrition.TV came from my experience as a Sesame Street International Executive Producer during the 1990’s creating original, foreign-language versions of Sesame Street in Russia (Ultisa Sezam,) and in Mexico (Plaza Sesamo) for Sesame Workshop. I witnessed first-hand, on location in Moscow, how a TV series could help transform a nation and promote democracy through an episode where Russian children vote for crayons or juice!

KNTV’s interactivity, scalability and cost-effective delivery model satisfies the hungry, growing cadre of food-obsessed youth and educators who are sharing viral content about food, friends and their lives online.

To date, over 18,000 students in more than 50 schools located in low-income, minority communities in the US are implementing the KNTV program and feedback so far has been the reward for all the hard work by so many people. For example, Mark Ralston, a health teacher using the program in Pinellas County, Florida schools says,

“KickinNutrition.TV has that kind of edgy feel, especially for my middle school students…in the past, teaching nutrition to kids and making it interesting can get really difficult. So they vest interest in characters that are in the program… it gets them involved, paying attention, I love hearing the excitement it’s creating wanting to make meals at home like Reyna and Stacy so I think that’s really good”.

This past summer 1,200+ children used KNTV in BELL afterschool New York City programs, combining BELL’s focus on healthy afterschool time with an enriching nutrition curriculum and exercise breaks. Kimberly Jackson-Brown, Program Director BELL Afterschool NYC, emphasizes the impact that a 24/7-accessable, digital program can have beyond the classroom:

“Because we are in an age where everything is so technology-based, I think it’s a great way that that they [the students] can use KickinNutrition when they get home, after they do their homework. They can go online and watch the actual videos again with their families. I also think it’s a great way that they [the students] can post the recipes online.”

When children question about how the world works, often they turn to the Internet for the answer. Using technology to provide wide-scale, affordable food education for all, in tandem with access to healthy school meals legislated by the congress, is an excellent recipe to reduce childhood obesity rates among children and adolescents.

My hope is that KickinNutrition.TV will level the playing field so that all children will have access to the tools they need to make healthier choices and we can prevent obesity and the diseases that are impacting our children’s futures.

As one 5th grade student in Harlem Village Academy schools explains:

“Because I saw the show I had my mom throw away her Pepsi bottle, and we started singing drinking my smoothie and I started making smoothies for everyone. She has stopped now [drinking soda]… I had them wake up every morning to some healthy breakfast and shakes.”

The evidence-based curriculum has demonstrated an impact on health knowledge acquisition and health behaviors, based on scientific research by Dr. Paula Quatromoni of Boston University and Philliber Research Associates.

For more information visit KickinNutrition.TV or visit:

Twitter: @kicknnutrition

Facebook: KickinNutrition.TV

Instagram: KickinNutrition

YouTube: KickinNutrition.TV

Snapchat: @KickinNutrition

Natasha Lance Rogoff

Natasha Lance Rogoff has produced and directed KickinNutrition.TV with a talented team of artists since 2010. Rogoff is a seasoned children’s television producer and former Executive Producer of Sesame Street International where she created 182 episodes on location in Russia and Mexico. She has earned numerous awards for her current affairs and children’s programming.

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1 comment

  1. BobbuBrowne 7 months ago May 4, 2017

    Hello! Cool post, amazing!!!

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