Governor's Office Visits Lessons in a Lunchbox Program

Governor's Office Visits Lessons in a Lunchbox Program
Posted on 03/10/2016

By Carrie Sterrs, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Projects

In February, Candy Edwards-Roach, senior policy analyst in the Governor’s Office for Children, represented the Hogan administration and its ongoing support for oral health education in Maryland public schools.  Edwards-Roach visited first-grade students at Ocean City Elementary School to observe a dental health lesson. 

Following her classroom observation, Edwards-Roach addressed students as part of the day’s Lessons in a Lunchbox: Healthy Teeth Essentials & Facts about Snacks® presentation to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month. Edwards-Roach acknowledged the importance of having the right resources to support oral health instruction in the classroom and explained the efforts being put forth in Maryland to offer creative ways to teach about dental health.

One these resources is the Lesson in a Lunchbox, which each child in attendance was given. Assisting Edwards-Roach in the distribution of the three-dimensional lunchboxes (pictured right) was Coordinator of Instruction Tamara Mills. Mills was instrumental in creating a partnership with Dr. Winifred Booker, pediatric dentist and creator of the lunchbox, who secured grant funding to ensure the program and the accompanying lunchbox was provided at no cost to every first grade student in Worcester County.

“It is our hope that this resource will inspire children to discuss flossing, brushing, nutrition, and careers in dentistry with their families,” Mills said. “It is incredibly important that we can augment the discussion of oral health at home, so children can continue to make these vital connections to the instruction they receive from their teachers while in school.”

This program ensures that teachers, parents and children are all working together to help eliminate tooth decay and poor oral hygiene in children. An unhealthy mouth can keep kids from being successful in school and can consequently lead to diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease.

“Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease of children ages five to seventeen,” said Booker. “No child should be at-risk of dying from complications arising from dental caries, when all it takes is education and preventative maintenance to keep children’s teeth healthy.”

The Lessons in a Lunchbox program is one part of the county’s system-wide initiative of Integrated Health Literacy Program for grades one through eight.  Worcester County Public Schools, Atlantic General Hospital and University of Maryland Center for Health Literacy are partners in the relatively new Integrated Health Literacy program.  The collaborative program works toward equipping students with a skillset to make healthy food and fitness choices, strengthen communication skills when speaking about health, and becoming a more health literate generation. 

The Lessons in a Lunch Box program is in keeping with the certification of oral health education on December 1, 2015 by Governor Hogan. This is an achievement shared by Maryland’s Office of Oral Health, the Maryland Dental Society, the Maryland State Dental Association, the Maryland Academy of General Dentistry, the Maryland Dental Hygiene Association and the University of Maryland.

If you have additional questions about the Lessons in a Lunchbox Program, please contact me at 410-632-5092.