RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The house at Hillcrest Road’s Habernickel Family Park will have a new resident on a mission to promote healthy eating habits: HealthBarn USA.
Stacey Antine, R.D., has been holding year-round youth programs at the Abma's Farm in Wyckoff since 2005 as an educational tool to empower families to take control of their health and future.
She came up with the idea for HealthBarn while on clinical rotation at Beth Israel Medical Center, when she realized that today's children would not outlive their parents based on their lifestyles.
“Kids are being treated as if they have diabetes or cancer intsead of understanding how to make a better food choice,” said Antine, a registered dietitian who holds a Master’s of Science in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University.
“I wanted to create a destination where children would take fun classes and teach this in an interactive way.”
Antine first started cooking classes for children to create healthy snacks and meals using the organic fruits and vegetables that they harvested. In doing so, the children learned the nutritional value of foods, the purpose of whole grains, proteins, healthy fats and more.
The HealthBarn has grown to offer classes for all age groups, from “sprouts to master chefs,” and is in its sixth year with a program for special needs children.
“I really believe that coming to Ridgewood will expand our outreach to all aspects of the community,” said Antine, the author of her child-friendly cookbook, “Appetite for Life,” intended to educate children who can’t visit the HealthBarn on a regular basis.
The house at Habernickel Family Park will have a demonstration kitchen, three main classrooms, outdoor cooking patio, a child-production garden and a handicapped bathroom.
Antine hopes the house will be a model for visitors.
“This is a home,” Antine said. “The idea is to utilize this space to show people that it’s possible at home.”
Ridgewood resident and pediatrician Lawrence Rosen is looking forward to having Health Barn USA in his community.
"Once we pass the knowledge stage, one of the main barriers to success is getting kids involved in their own healthy eating practices, something important for lifelong optimal health," Rosen said.
"HealthBarn USA has really bridged that gap," he added. "Getting kids engaged in growing their food, harvesting it and preparing it in a super-fun, inspiring way."
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