By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – For the second year in a row, in honor of national Nutrition Month, Rhode Island author and nutritionist Joy Feldman is bringing her message of good nutrition and the perils of junk food to children’s health to Rhode Island schoolchildren.
On March 11 (and March 12 in Warwick), her book, “Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?,” will be read at more than 170 school and educational locations – from Head Start programs in Central Falls, Coventry, Cranston, Lincoln, Johnston, Narragansett and Newport to elementary schools in Barrington, Bristol, East Greenwich, East Providence, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Smithfield, Westerly and Woonsocket.
The message of her book is to help children learn about the relationship between good nutrition and health – and to help them stay away from junk food.
Nearly one in six (16.5 percent) Rhode Island children entering kindergarten during the 2009-2010 school year was obese, according to Rhode Island Kids Count 2011 Factbook.
Among the celebrity readers who are scheduled to read “Is Your Hair Made of Donuts” are WJAR-TV NBC 10 reporter Molly O’Brien in Cranston, Mayor Allan Fung in Cranston, Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health, at the Captain Isaac Paine Elementary in Foster, North Providence Mayor John Lombardi at the Marieville Elementary School, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien at the Elizabeth Baldwin Elementary School, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian at Park Elementary School.
Corporate sponsors for the reading include Sodexo, United Natural Foods and Whole Foods Market. The East Providence Boys & Girls Club is helping to provide administrative support. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is donating funds for the purchase of books and the health insurer is planning to send staff to read in the schools.
“How we approach early childhood education requires ‘wearing a new hat,’” Feldman said, referring to her special hat of doughnuts she wears when doing workshops in schools. “We need new answers, new solutions, and a highly motivated flock of young people to ask for healthier school lunches, to choose better foods, and to take the good food message into their own homes.”
Feldman called the statewide reading event, happening simultaneously at numerous sites across the state, an act of solidarity. “It’s an act of solidarity to promote healthier foods, to turn away from junk food, to reunite the family during dinner time, and to empower our children,” she said. To improve our children’s health, she continued, “let’s start with the smallest state, and the let’s take it to the nation.”