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OMYF Community Spotlight: Hebni Nutrition Consultants

By Josh Cohen
August 11, 2011

ORLANDO -- Often when we step into the kitchen, we mindlessly conclude we don’t have the time, the energy or the knowledge to prepare healthy and enjoyable meals.

As a result of these injudicious thoughts, it’s frequent that we throw in the towel and run over to a local fast food restaurant or settle for some kind of unwholesome meal that sits in the refrigerator or cabinets.

But thanks to one local organization, more and more people are learning that it’s rather uncomplicated to eat healthy without having to depend on restaurants or detrimental snacking.

Hebni Nutrition Consultants, a community based, non-profit organization committed to improving consumers health by providing comprehensive nutrition information, developed an after-school and summer program that encourages and teaches children how to be healthy.

K.Y.D.S (Keeping Your Diet Straight) Take Charge! targets African-American elementary and middle school youth who are at-risk for obesity by offering weekly nutritional education, cooking demonstrations, exercise classes and tennis lessons. Part of the instruction is welcoming the members into a facility that holds four state-of-the-art test kitchens to show families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.

Earlier in the year, K.Y.D.S earned a major boost when the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF), granted Hebni Nutrition Consultants $35,000 to help enhance the program.

Hebni Nutrition Consultants is one of 19 Central Florida organizations that was presented a grant by the OMYF-MFF as a part of the Magic’s community outreach initiative. Over the last 21 years, the OMYF has distributed more than $16 million to local non-profit community organizations. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament with matching funds at $0.50 on the dollar provided by the McCormick Foundation.

The money has helped fund educational and incentive items such as curriculum workbooks, food diaries, water bottles, pedometers, notebooks, exercise bands, snacks and gift cards to local grocery stores as incentive to participate in program activities.

“Health and wellness is one of the Magic and OMYF’s three focus areas,” said Orlando Magic President Alex Martins. “We are thrilled to be able to provide assistance to a program like K.Y.D.S. through Hebni Nutrition Consultants that impacts so many young people. Because of programs like these, we will conquer the childhood obesity epidemic. Education is crucial.”

K.Y.D.S. is offered as a supplement to other after-school programs, which may include athletic and academic activities. Representatives from Hebni visit local schools to explain what their program is and what kind of benefits those that participate will receive.

“We have seen our kids’ population explode,” said Roniece Weaver, a registered dietician and executive director of K.Y.D.S., who believes the assistance from the Magic has had a big impact on the interest level from families across the area.

Also encouraging is the noticeable changes that Weaver and her staff have seen. Many of the kids have dropped weight and continue to be committed to being fit by staying active and eating more nutritious foods. Hebni estimates serving more than 180 youth through the K.Y.D.S. program in 2011.

“I want to commend the Magic as a lot of organizations don’t do what they do,” said Weaver. “The Magic take a different and effective approach that allows us to bring healthy options to others.”

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