Involving Kids in Your Grocery TripJul-18-2012
Have you ever seen a six year-old get excited about the first red tomato ripening on the vine and then use that same tomato in a couscous salad - and here's the real kicker - then eat it? There are so many opportunities to provide fun and educational experiences with kids at the supermarket level. Young children are naturally curious, eager learners and haven't yet fully formed lifestyle habits that will last into adulthood. In over 100 cooking classes for kids in the supermarket setting, I have learned that the more fun you make the learning experience, the more excited and willing the kids will be when they are given the option to taste.
As a registered dietitian, I start all kids' cooking classes in the produce aisle. Doing this gives the opportunity to discover the colors, shapes, textures and smells fresh fruits and vegetables have to offer and allows the kids to be explorers of their food using their senses. It is the perfect place in the store to slow down, appreciate and learn about fresh fruits and vegetables for what they are. In fact, recently I was teaching a class called "Savvy Kids in the Supermarket" where we explored the produce aisle looking for kid-friendly produce items. During the excursion into produce, kids were jumping up and down with excitement noting they couldn't wait to tell their parents about baby bananas, cherry tomatoes, fuzzy kiwis and how to pick a pineapple. In a time where some parents think the only way to get kids excited about a grocery shopping trip is to promise bright and colorful candy, it is amazing to see kids this excited over nature's candy (fresh fruit and vegetables) and how they want to share that enthusiasm.
Another way to emphasize the fresh food and good health connection is through a garden and cooking program at the supermarket level. In spring 2011, our store launched the first Hy-Vee Sprouts - Get Out and Grow Program for three to nine year-old children to plant the seeds for healthy habits that would last a lifetime. This program was created as my lifelong dream and desire to promote the benefits of gardening with children knowing the impact it made on me as a child. The bounty we saw from this program was phenomenal, including:
• Increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
• Increased willingness to try fresh vegetables
• Positive perceptions and attitudes of healthy foods
• Eagerness to cook with (and taste) what they grew
• Inspiration to start home gardens
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Posted by Ken at 12:00 AM
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