Kids in Nutrition aims to educate children on healthy eating


Jessica Xing

A branch of Kids in Nutrition, a club aimed at teaching children healthy eating habits, was recently started at Northeastern.

Jessica Xing, news staff

Northeastern’s new Kids in Nutrition, or KIN, club plans to educate children in Boston public schools through programs about nutrition and healthy eating.

The founders of KIN have been actively reaching out to students on campus who might be interested in helping with this cause. While they have not yet gained official recognition as a chapter of the national KIN organization, the club has already held a successful first interest meeting and has reached out to local public schools that may be interested in hosting them.

While Northeastern’s KIN chapter was founded last semester, Thao-Mi Nguyen, a second-year health science major and the founder and chapter director of Northeastern KIN, had the idea to start a nutrition education program on campus last school year. After researching various college nutrition education programs, she came across KIN and decided to reach out to the organization’s founders.

In order to start a chapter of the main KIN organization, Nguyen worked with the other current club directors in order to complete an application form last summer. Some of the form’s requirements include at least 12 emails and IDs of students who would be interested in joining, a description of what the chapter’s mission would be and a letter of recommendation from Northeastern’s Office of City and Community Engagement.

“The founders of the [original KIN] organization themselves actually helped a lot in terms of helping us curate answers to the questions that were on the application,” Nguyen said. 

While the process of being officially recognized as a chapter by the main KIN organization isn’t difficult, it can take a long time to complete.

I submitted our application last summer and we have tentative recognition now and we won’t get official recognition until probably next semester,” Nguyen said. “So the process itself isn’t too difficult, but it’s definitely lengthy.”

The KIN club aims to teach children healthy nutrition habits so that they can make smarter dieting choices that will benefit them in the future.

“[The club’s goal] is … just for [the students] to understand what role nutrition plays in our day-to-day lives and how it helps us grow and how it helps our health and well-being,” said Ananya Jain, the director of outreach for Northeastern KIN and a second-year health science and business administration combined major.

Northeastern’s KIN club hopes to focus on teaching first and second graders the curriculum that has already been created by the larger KIN organization. This involves a seven-lesson plan that will touch on a new topic in nutrition for kids each week for one hour.

“We target that age group because that’s when kids are often very impressionable and they’re starting to learn more about food and how their food choices impact them and their environment,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen first started recruiting members by posting on social media and in large group chats with Northeastern students, but the club has since gained many interested members in large part due to the connections the directors have with professors. 

“This semester we had a more robust system, where we were reaching out to professors that the other directors and I were close with and asking them to post announcements on their Canvas pages,” Nguyen said. And, as a result, we’ve had people email us about getting involved in the club, and we were able to get people to come to some of our information sessions.”

Anika Burac, a first-year pharmacy major, decided to join the club after hearing about it from her nutrition professor and the club’s faculty advisor, Yeemay Su Miller.

When [Miller] described it, it was definitely something that really piqued my interest, so I decided to go to the first interest meeting,” Burac said.

So far, the club has held one interest meeting in which the directors explained the goals and plans for the club to attendees.

“We’ve been starting to reach out to schools and we are planning fundraisers just to help us kind of raise money and spread the word about the club as we get started,” Jain said.

For many members, the decision to join had to do with observations on how poor nutrition can affect people’s lives and society as a whole.

“A lot of the health conditions that people face in America … a majority of it is preventative and it’s preventative through people’s diet and nutrition and exercise,” Jain said. “I feel like instilling those values at a young age … could play a huge role in combating all of these health conditions that people face and just making society a healthier place to be.”

For Raquel Gonzalez, a first-year information technology major and an international student from Spain, there is a clear difference in the eating habits of those in the United States and those in Spain. Gonzalez noticed that Americans tend to eat a lot more junk food from fast food chains, and joined the club in order to help children learn how to have balanced diets.

“In Spain, there’s not that much advertisement of fast food chains,” Gonzalez said. “ In school, at least in mine, it’s true that professors are really involved in trying to teach us to eat vegetables … and in school canteens, they also give us really good food.”

Many also joined due to personal experiences that they had with nutrition in the past.

My parents were straight from the Philippines … they’re immigrants and they were working most of the time, so nutrition really wasn’t introduced in my family,” Burac said. “We kind of ate out of convenience, and what was available to us while they were working … I think that that’s the same thing for a lot of kids. A lot of us live lives of convenience and we choose our food based on what is available to us. And I think that being able to make an impact on younger kids outside of their families is what I’m most excited about.”

In the future, the KIN club plans on hosting more meetings, gaining more members and getting the official recognition needed to start going into schools and teaching children. 

“Ideally, we would like to start off with at least one or two schools by hopefully next semester,” Jain said. “We’ll see depending on when we get that recognition, but definitely want to start getting into schools and start teaching kids.”