Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Death by Pop Tarts

Paradise Greetings,

When I arrived to teach the "Making Healthy Snacks" class today, I noticed the board in the kitchen had the official after-school snack menu supplied by the school district: "pop tarts and chocolate milk". As I set up the blenders to make my famous Fabulous Florida Fruit Shakes I spied industrial packages of pop tarts at the end of the counter.

The kids tapped to participate in our class due to their good behavior also spied the Pop Tarts on the counter and their little hands and arms started indiscriminately grabbing for them.

We snatched the Pop Tarts from the counter and put them up out of sight of the children, all of whom had previously indicated they had a mother, father, brother or sister on medication for high blood pressure and/or diabetes.

The "Making Health Snacks" class began. One child was asked to read the recipe. Another was asked to measure out the ingredients. The children had no idea how to tell a "teaspoon" from a "tablespoon" so it was clear that basic literacy was a problem. Once we got past the literacy issue and engaged the kids in a discussion about the frozen blueberries, peaches, and mangos and the benefits of ground flax seed and fat-free Greek yogurt, the blenders started whirring happily as more and more kids came around to see what was happening in the kitchen and what the excitement was all about.

After the first chef spoon held by the girl wearing the Growing Healthy Kids apron (with superpowers) elicited a "Wow, this is great!" reaction, sample cups of our Fabulous Florida Fruit Shakes were passed around to the 40 or so kids and staff in attendance. As parents came in to pick up their little ones, the kids eagerly asked for samples to share with them and we were happy to oblige.

Not once did we hear kids asking for a pop tart for their mom. Funny thing...when you give kids a choice, they always choose health!

Thinking about what happened today, I know that if our school district provided kids with the same options that Growing Healthy Kids is teaching kids, then the job of reversing childhood obesity in Indian River County and the rest of the nation would be soooooo much easier. Pop tarts and chocolate milk or Fabulous Florida Fruit Shakes. Which do you want YOUR kids to have?

Next time you go to the store, pick up a box of Pop Tarts, count the number of ingredients, then read the list out loud. If you want the recipe for Fabulous Florida Fruit Shakes, post a comment.
Growing Healthy Kids - improving the health - and lives - of America's kids, one child and one garden at a time.

To your perfect health.

Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

PS--Thanks to The Community Church of Vero Beach and Vero-Treasure Coast Kiwanis Club for supporting this project!