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Hy-Vee programs plants seeds for healthy habits

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013 11:09 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2013 11:50 a.m. CST

The Newton Hy-Vee kids’ community garden will provide a seed-to-table experience for children to foster a love of vegetables.

Jenny Thompson, registered dietitian at the Newton Hy-Vee, is implementing this new program to cultivate healthier food choices in children. The intent of the program is to increase children’s preferences for vegetables through the experience of helping to grow, prepare and taste featured vegetables in the garden located on-site at the Newton Hy-Vee store.

The goal of the program is to plant the seeds for healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Classes will take place in the garden throughout the summer and into the fall. Jenny is currently working with the Newton YMCA Childcare, Peck Child Development Center, Loving Hands Daycare and offering classes open to any children in the community.

Research has shown that teaching children lifelong healthy eating habits when they are young leads to lower rates of childhood obesity. This corresponds with the recent release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which states an “urgent need to focus on children.”

What research says gardening with kids can do:

• Increase interest in eating fruits and vegetables and improve attitudes toward fruit and vegetables

• Improve nutrition knowledge and vegetable preferences

• Increase children’s knowledge about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables

• Increase fruit and vegetable consumption

• Improve social skills and behavior

• Improve life skills, including working with groups and self-understanding

• Instill knowledge, appreciation and respect for nature that lasts into adulthood

The children will visit the garden regularly to learn more about vegetables and their importance in maintaining good health. They will plant the seeds, play “plants & robbers,” a fun take on weeding and a good chance to explain the reasons why weeds are not wanted in the garden, explore vegetables using all their senses and assist in the preparation of healthy recipes using produce from the garden.

Contact Jenny Thompson, RD, LD, CDE at Hy-Vee at 792-7030 or jlthompson@hy-vee.com for more information.

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