Donors swap food for fitness
A bag of canned goods was the price of admission to attend aerobics, cycling and yoga classes Friday at the Pounds for Pounds food drive benefiting the Star of Hope shelter.
Kinesiology graduate student Kristen McAlexander, who coordinated the event with the Department of Health and Human Performance and other local and student organizations, said she was trying to give back to the community.
"I came up with the idea on Christmas break and found out about this organization called One…(and) I thought it was a good fit," McAlexander said.
The Health and Human Performance Department and the UH chapter of One, a national organization dedicated to raising AIDS and poverty awareness, were among the five organizations present to educate students about nutrition and health.
McAlexander said One helped set up the partnership with Star of Hope for the event.
Finance senior Stacy Philips, who helped found the UH chapter of One last fall, said that besides raising awareness of the effects of poverty and AIDS in society, she wanted to bolster membership by increasing student recruits in the organization. About six members are active in the organization, she said.
"Students want to know more (about One)," Philips said.
The organization is listed on social networking Web site Facebook and is called One @ UH, Philips said.
Members of the Student Nutrition Association at the event said they wanted to help educate students and the general public about food portion sizes, healthy eating and dieting information.
"(Our pamphlets) just have information about nutritional values… recipes to make healthier food (so people can) give themselves better diets," nutrition junior Joshua Nixon, a member of the organization, said.
Nutrition senior Julie Cao, another member, said the event was a way for the organization to gain exposure to more students
"We really just want them to eat better," Cao said. "(We want to) promote better eating (and) we’re promoting ourselves, too."
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/snanutrition, or contact the organization via e-mail at [email protected]
The Texas Obesity Research Center was another organization present at the event. Leatha Moore, a manager for the center, said she wanted to provide the public with strategies to prevent obesity.
"Healthy eating, exercising and plenty of water," Moore said.
The center, which was founded by Health and Human Performance Director Rebecca Lee, is part of the Understanding Neighborhood Determinants of Obesity – a project that is researching the social, economic and medical causes of obesity, according to its Web site.
Cheryl Picard, a volunteer with The Healthy Weigh, an eating disorder counseling organization, said she wanted students to be aware of the dangers of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and food binging.
"(There are) different ways to get help," Picard said.
The Healthy Weigh is offering an eating disorders support group at 6 p.m. on Mondays at 2801 Bammel Lane. For more information, call (713) 622-6422 or visit www.thehealthyweighonline.com
Pounds for Pounds, which took place at the Melcher Gymnasium in Garrison Gymnasium, attempted to raise 5,000 pounds of canned and non-perishable food items, McAlexander said. The final weigh-in at 3 p.m. Friday had a weight of about 1,000 pounds of donations.
Donors could take different exercise and physical activities classes such as tae kwon do, swimming, yoga and indoor cycling. When participants weren’t breaking a sweat during workouts and sports, they could attend health and nutrition workshops led by health and human performance instructors.
McAlexander said health instructors were also volunteering their time to speak to participants about nutrition misinformation.
"The media presents a lot of information that is false," she said. "(The workshops) talk about what’s true, what’s false."
McAlexander said this is the first food drive she’s coordinated, and she wants the event to continue annually.