Nutrition Profs from WCU Teach Seventh-Graders at YMCA How to Make Healthy Meals

Jeanie Subach, left, and Sandy Sarcona.

As part of a community-engaged research project led by West Chester University Assistant Professors of Nutrition Jeanie Subach and Sandy Sarcona, 10 youth from the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s “Believe & Achieve Program” received Instapots (pressure cookers), dry measuring cups and spoons, and a $25 Giant gift card on Wednesday at the Oscar Lasko YMCA.

The youth also made Instapot barbecue chicken wraps and banana/blueberry whips. The seventh-graders received four weeks of nutrition education and culinary instruction on the Instapot from Subach, Sarcona, and two WCU nutrition students, Autumn Casey and Sean O’Brien, as part of a project designed to teach the youth how to prepare healthy meals.

The program is the result of a $2,000 internal WCU faculty/student research grant from the university’s College of Health Sciences; the grant supports two faculty and two WCU students. The YMCA helped recruit the 10 seventh-graders who are from its “Believe & Achieve Program,” a fully-subsidized program providing after-school enrichment and summer camp for children who are from low-income households.

Over the course of four weeks, the 10 youth learned to make:

  • mac & cheese with white beans and spinach
  • turkey sloppy joe with homemade sauce
  • chicken, broccoli, and brown rice
  • barbecue chicken on whole wheat wrap
  • hummus and carrots
  • banana whip

The internal WCU grant was the result of discussions between Scott Heinerichs, Dean of WCU’s College of Health Sciences, and Patti Campbell, the YMCA’s Vice President of Mission Advancement. Their collaboration led to the request for proposals from the university’s College of Health Sciences faculty for community-engaged research that would apply knowledge and expertise in a manner that positively impacted the YMCA of Greater Brandywine and, at the same time, contributed to a faculty members’ scholarship area.

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