Student News

How Proper Nutrition can Restore and Improve the Health of the Children of the Flint Water Crisis

Nafissatou Sall – August 24, 2018

This summer I received a generous grant from the CSGC to benefit the health of the residence who live in Flint, Michigan. Before the Flint Water Crisis was a well-known public health issue, many families with children complained of physical health problems that could possibly be linked to the water source. For example, many families complained of rashes appearing when bathing their children. Once the water source was confirmed as the root of this problem, pediatricians recognized that there was a definite possibility of the citizens of Flint to have elevated mental health issues because of lead exposure. Lead is known to inflict brain damage, with the effects being primarily drastic in children(including unborn children). Learning disabilities, delay in development, and damage in nervous system are only some of the effects that lead poisoning induces.

Fortunately, it has been proven that maintaining a healthy diet with a high intake of fruits and vegetables has the ability to partially mediate the lead poisoning effects in children. As this was made known to the citizens of Flint, organizations like Pediatric Public Health Initiative took matters into their own hands and began Flint Kid’s Cook, a program that is dedicated to encouraging children who live in Flint to adopt a healthier lifestyle by teaching them various healthy recipes. In addition, Sean Gartland, a top chef in Flint, gives excellent demonstrations along with other volunteers on how to prepare these recipes. The children are also given the chance to participate by preparing the demonstrated dish. After these classes are finished, each child is receives three $5 dollar vouchers that allows them to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the Flint Farmers Market in Downtown Flint. Flint Kid’s Cook has been going on since early last year, and it has acquired extremely positive feedback! As of now, classes have began, with about 12 kids who are enrolled in this session!

While Flint Kid’s Cook is one of several programs in Flint that benefit the health of Flint kids, there are other programs that benefit not only children, but their families as well. The” Flint Food Farmacy” is a food clinic in which families who have a prescription from their local doctor can receive free farmers market fruits and vegetables, canned/frozen goods, bread, and much more. Like I will be doing at The Flint Kids Cook Sessions, I will be giving away these same vouchers (three $5 vouchers) to the families who arrive at the facility.

With the funds I received from the CSGC, I am able to purchase these vouchers and give back to my community.