From left, meet Tin Vo, Annalisa Ursino, Renee McMinn, and Megan Duong. They are four West Seattle High School students with one goal: As Megan explains, “We want more families to choose WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT BREAD as their main bread choice,” as a small step toward eating healthier food: “After doing a lot of research, I learned that whole grain wheat bread has so many health benefits that you can’t get through eating other foods.”
They also want to get more restaurant owners to offer whole-grain bread in menu items for kids, instead of defaulting to “enriched white bread,” which doesn’t compare nutritionally. So far – not much luck, Megan explains: “It can be a bit frustrating because we feel as though they aren’t taking us seriously since we are just a small group of teenagers.”
She has hope that getting the information out can make a difference in people’s choices – even kids and teens:
I recently took a survey, asking 10 teens around my age (15-18 years old) and 10 younger kids (6-11 years old) if they would rather eat white bread or whole grain wheat bread. Most of them said white bread, except for four of the ten teens that were surveyed. The four that said they would rather eat wheat bread already knew the health benefits. However, the rest of them who said they would rather eat white bread, claimed that it either tastes better, they were raised to eat white bread, or they didn’t know the difference. After I told them just one fact that simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent, according to research from the University of Washington … most were shocked.
After giving them this statistic, I asked them again if they would rather eat white bread or whole grain wheat bread, five of the six teens that first said they would rather white bread chose to eat whole grain wheat bread after finding out it was healthier. Seven of the ten kids who originally said they would rather eat white bread agreed to eat or at least try whole grain wheat bread. After doing this survey, I noticed that many teens and kids don’t know the difference between whole grain wheat and white bread. I think if we spread the fact that it is healthier to eat whole grain wheat bread, many kids would make the switch. If we get enough kids to eat more wheat bread, it could really open the doorway to making healthier choices at the dinner table.
Their project is part of competition for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America “Star Events” and they’re making a presentation on Saturday, for the chance to move on to statewide competition.
They did get some support, from the Whole Grains Council: “They thought our idea was great and they agreed to send us 100 pins to give out at school and help promote choosing whole grains.”
And they have created this flyer for you to see – even, to share! (It includes contact info if you would like to reach the teens and offer support for their campaign.)
Concludes Megan: “Throughout this project, our ideas have been rejected by many restaurants; however, we are very determined and aren’t willing to give up! We are going to keep fighting to encourage families, children, and teens to live a healthier lifestyle. … we really want to make a difference, but we can’t do it alone.”