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Gimme Five: Barbara Hankins


Name: Barbara Hankins
Title: Owner
Organization: HUMAN Healthy Vending – Greater Denver Area

Healthy food habits start out young, and no one understands that more than our Gimme Five featured Leader this week, Barbara Hankins. Through her personal life, growing up with a mother who understood the importance of healthy choices, into her career as a teacher and now at HUMAN Healthy Vending, Barbara is no stranger to fruits and veggies! Read on more to get to know Barbara and about what she’s working on at HUMAN Healthy Vending.

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

I was fortunate to grow up in a household without soda or chips. My mother was a big influence and always motivated me to make healthy choices in my life. My first foray into helping children make healthy choices was when I taught kindergarten. From there, I’ve continually been driven to help the younger generation understand the impact of their choices, including their food and beverage choices. Small changes = big impact!

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

I’ve always been passionate about health and wellness and I’m very grateful that I currently have a significant impact on the children in my community by making healthy snacks available at participating schools and YMCAs. I am grateful to have found my niche in providing easy access to healthier options via a free healthy vending program. I am passionate about wanting to help my community by supporting healthy options. Helping children and families to make better choices is extremely rewarding. The largest problems often have the simplest solutions. I fight obesity by making healthy products extremely convenient.

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?

During my time teaching, I incorporated information about healthy food into my lessons and helped educate parents to bring in nutritious options for snack time. It was very rewarding when I saw one of my students eat broccoli for the first time in front of her shocked mother. Right then and there the mother promised to cook healthier meals at home. I told her she made my year!

Who is your role model in your work?

Food Revolution Day was on May 15, 2015, so I was recently reminded of Jamie Oliver’s work on this great project. His mission is to fight for food education for every child. My mission is to fight for easy nutrition everywhere. 

What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?

As I mentioned previously, I am blessed to have a mother who taught me early on that a healthy diet is the backbone of a healthy life. I have always loved fresh fruit and vegetables. Growing up, I enjoyed all types of berries with yogurt for a snack and many times those berries were straight from my mother’s garden.

Each week, our own Amy Stone speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Amy's profile and contact her