The Dannon Company, Inc. awarded the I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center (JCC) the fourth annual Dannon Next Generation Nutrition Grant aimed at promoting healthy eating and fitness among students in the Salt Lake County community. The JCC received $30,000 in support of its Fun, Fit & Healthy! nutrition education program.
Fun, Fit & Healthy! will offer weekly, nutritionist-developed cooking classes for pre-school and elementary school students, as well as weekly, age-appropriate fitness classes for students, ages 2 to 12 years old. The nutrition and fitness classes will also include two workshops, focused on teaching parents about menu planning, portion control, and reading nutrition labels. In addition, the JCC is partnering with the Public Utah Education Network Channel to present a series of films on fitness and obesity throughout the upcoming year. The JCC will also host a family fitness fair in September.
"As a child-oriented community center, we're thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our nutrition and fitness offerings to children in our community-at-large," said Andrea Alcabes, executive director of the JCC. "Utah has the youngest population in the country and it's important that we teach our kids about eating well and educate them on good nutrition."
With funding from The Dannon Company, Fun, Fit & Healthy! will directly reach more than 275 children in Salt Lake County between the ages of 2 to 12 years old, and is expected to reach several thousand though the implementation of the grant.
"We often read that obesity is a critical issue among children and the best way for our communities to address this problem is by educating children on good health and nutrition," said West Jordan Mayor David Newton. "I commend the I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center for putting together a creative program and Dannon for supporting our community efforts to keep our children fit and healthy."
"With recent statistics showing that obesity is one of the top public health challenges facing Utah and the nation as a whole, teaching young people about proper nutrition and exercise early in life is key to helping them sustain good health into adulthood," said Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
As a result of Dannon's support, the Next Generation Nutrition Grant-funded programs have reached more than 1,100 children in Salt Lake County during the last three years and have garnered positive results. Among participants in the 2006 grant recipient program, the 4-H TRY (Teens Reaching Youth) Nutrition Program reported a 27% increase in those who ate three to four fruit servings daily and an eight-minute average increase in participation in sports.
The alarming epidemic of obesity among children and adolescents throughout the nation is jeopardizing the future health of our youth. In 2008, 21.5% of Utah elementary school students were at an unhealthy weight according to the Utah Department of Health.
"By educating children at an early age on good eating and exercise habits, programs like Fun, Fit & Healthy! are helping to change unhealthy habits that have become so common," said Gayle Binney, Dannon's corporate responsibility manager. "The I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center is building a base for healthy behaviors that will stay with these children and their families for years to come, and Dannon is proud to contribute to its efforts."
Today's grant ceremony, held at Dannon's plant in West Jordan, Utah, was attended by West Jordan Mayor David Newton; Jennifer Scott, district director for Rep. Jason Chaffetz; Ron Dean, Central and Eastern Utah director for Sen. Orin Hatch; and Michael Sullivan, director of communications for the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development. Also in attendance were Andrea Alcabes, executive director of the JCC; Mark Baer, president of the JCC's board of directors; Dannon's West Jordan plant director, Jean-Philippe Nattero; and Dannon's corporate responsibility manager, Gayle Binney.
Dannon established the Dannon Next Generation Nutrition Grants in 2006 to promote childhood nutrition education in each of the four communities where Dannon facilities are located. As part of the grant, Dannon contributes $30,000 to four non-profit organizations ($120,000 in total) in Auglaize County, Ohio; Salt Lake Counties, Utah; Tarrant County, Texas; and Westchester County, N.Y., for programs that teach and nurture healthy eating habits among children. This year, Dannon's parent company, Danone, will celebrate its 90(th) anniversary and its longtime mission to bring health through nutritious food.
About I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center
The I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center has been a vital part of the Salt Lake City community for 90 years. Its mission is to enrich the life of the Jewish community and the community at large by offering educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities in a place where people of all backgrounds, cultures and beliefs gather in peace and understanding. As a child-oriented community center, the JCC offers a renowned early childhood center, the only all-inclusive special needs program in the area, as well as summer camp, after-school programs and a variety of fitness and recreational classes. For more information about the JCC, visit www.slcjcc.org.
About The Dannon Company
The Dannon Company is America's founding national yogurt company and continually leverages its expertise to develop and market innovative cultured fresh dairy products in the United States. Headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., Dannon has plants in Minster, Ohio, Fort Worth, Texas, and West Jordan, Utah and produces approximately 100 different types of flavors, styles and sizes of cultured fresh dairy products. Dannon is a subsidiary of Danone, one of the world's leading producers of packaged foods and beverages, and Dannon is the top-selling brand of yogurt products worldwide, sold under the names Dannon and Danone.
With a strong commitment to high-quality, wholesome, nutritious and innovative products, The Dannon Company is committed to encouraging healthy eating and healthy living. Danone is a recognized leader for its contributions to nutrition and health and was ranked best in class in a 2008 JPMorgan & Insight Investment study about the response of the world's largest food companies to obesity and health-related concerns. This commitment is also illustrated through The Dannon Company's support of the Dannon Institute, an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting research, education, and communication about the links between nutrition, diet and health. For more information, please visit www.dannon.com.