PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS:
WINNER: TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
ENTRY: BEANIE PROGRAM/BEANIE CLUB
THE BIG IDEA: Getting the message about healthful dining to young children can be a difficult task, especially in a juvenile acute care setting where many patients have serious illnesses and extended stays. As a solution to this challenge, the staff at Texas Children's Hospital developed Beanie, a kid-focused and well-executed nutritional awareness program that teaches children about healthy habits as they relate to food and wellness.
Beanie is a mythical mascot with friends who are fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and grains. Portrayed as cartoon-like food characters, Beanie and his friends promote better eating habits that are easy for all, fun exercise methods and activities, an awareness of how one's body works, lists of smart food choices and working with and helping others to be healthier.
A component of the Beanie program is the Beanie Club, which encourages the selection of Beanie Choice daily specials that meet the program's standard for healthfulness with a card program. Concurrent with the program, the café expanded its availability of organic and natural foods, lower fat drinks and sugar-free dessert options, leading to healthier choices for all customers.
The program entails a very modest cost, under $2,000 annually, after a start-up cost for materials of just over $5,000. However, the payback in nutrition and health awareness among children and their families has been priceless.