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Why Nutrition?

Nutrition Tool Box

99 Ways to Make Your After School Program Even Healthier

CANFIT releases 99 Ways - an interactive brochure filled with resources & tips to improve the food and fitness environments for youth and families. Download at

Over the past two decades, we have learned a great deal about the relationship between poor diet, inactivity, and disease. We now know that healthy eating and physical activity patterns during childhood and adolescence not only promote proper growth and development, but also can lead to overall improved health and decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Studies have also shown that healthful eating can lead to better school performance and behavior. Download CANFIT Nutrition Publications

At CANFIT, we believe in these guiding principles that permeates all of our work:

  1. Nutrition education must be culturally appropriate. Cultural appropriateness includes issues of ethnicity, gender, language, culture and income.
  2. Youth must be actively involved in the planning and implementation of nutrition education. (e.g., Let youth determine what is relevant, and what would interest them.)
  3. Nutrition education must be balanced with education about physical activity.
  4. Young people today need skillbuilding in the areas of consumer literacy, meal planning, cooking, shopping, and fitness.
  5. The community environment and norms must be changed to support healthy eating and physical activity (includes the school, the after school program and the community).

Attention After School & Community Youth Providers!!

Here is a sample of some FREE nutrition resources that you can access. For more “FREE Publications” go to our Publications page.

Serve Healthy Snacks for Youth Now!
Snacks are an important part of a young person’s diet and can provide a good portion of their calorie and nutrient needs for the day. Considering the less nutritious foods youth are exposed to during the day—fast foods in their neighborhoods and school cafeterias, vending machines and corner candy stores—your program may be the only place your youth get healthy snacks. Whether you have the facilities to prepare snacks, or you must purchase your snacks, you should do your best to ensure that the snacks you serve are not only affordable, healthy, and nutritious but also appetizing.

Our CANFIT Healthy Snack Guide includes everything you need to make it easier to serve healthy snacks. It includes: 2-week sample cycle menus, best practices guidelines, 26 healthy recipes, and funding tips.  Download for FREE now!

Check out our Recommendations to Congress for the 2009 Child Reauthorization Act!

Play Nutrition Skill-Building Games & Activities with Youth!
Taste Test is an easy-to-follow activity (from our Super Manual) that allows youth to learn, teach and try different type of healthy food options.

Is Your Food a Healthy Choice? or ¿Escogió Algo Saludable?”
Is Your Food a Healthy Choice? is an activity that (along with a food label) can help youth determine if a food item is a healthy choice. Here are the English and Spanish versions.

1. Just Say “No” to Chips, Candy and Soda!
Youth buy them on the way to and from school and your after school program. There’s no reason for you to serve them, too! Let your program be a place where they eat snacks that will keep them healthy!

2. Have Moving Moments
Adolescents need to be physically active at least 60 minutes a day. Are they just sitting around in your after school program? Get them up and moving for at least 30 minutes. Try fitness circuits, dance time, cooperative games or a walk-a-thon. Ask the youth what they want to do, then help them make it happen!.

3. Serve Low-Fat Yogurt
An excellent source of calcium and protein, more easily digested than milk. Try freezing individual containers, taking them out a few hours before your program begins, and letting kids mix them up for a frosty treat!

4. Try Sweet Potatoes
One of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. They are packed with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Plain baked sweet potatoes need no toppings!

5. Fill Up on Fiber
Eat whole grain breads or crackers which are higher in fiber and dozens of other nutrients than refined white or “wheat” flour. It’s whole grain if the label says “rye,” “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” A good source of fiber has at least 2.5 grams per serving.

6. Pick Fruit and Vegetables
Fruits like oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, and fiber! Broccoli, kale, and spinach are loaded with calcium, iron, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. Grate crunchy vegetables (try carrots, jicama, and broccoli) into salads and serve with a low-fat dip. Peppers come in all kinds of colors, make a bouquet salad.

7. Drink 100% Fruit Juice
Orange, grapefruit, pineapple and prune are best. You can mix them with club soda or sparkling water to stretch your dollars. Look for “100% juice” on the label, with no added sugars. [Tip: Try calcium-fortified orange juice to increase calcium intake.] Figure out how much sugar common drinks contain in the How Does Your Drink Measure Up? Handout.

8. Buy Beans
Inexpensive, low in fat, and rich in protein, iron, folic acid, and fiber. Choose garbanzo, pinto, black, navy, black eyed peas, tofu or lentils. Make them into dips for vegetables, spreads for breads, or add them to salads.

9. Make it 1% Fat Milk
An excellent source of calcium, vitamins, and protein with little saturated fat. Any child over the age of two years old should be drinking low fat (1%) milk. Don’t worry, chocolate (1%) milk counts too, but watch out for the added sugars.

10. Don’t Forget the Water
Everyone needs at least eight eight-ounce servings of water a day. With the amount of soda and soft drink consumption reaching record proportions, getting enough water is becoming a problem. Don’t let it be in your after school program.  Serve cool, refreshing, inexpensive water.