Are you and your family getting enough veggies and fruit? Does the thought of encouraging kids to eat vegetables and fruit make your heart rate go up? Meal and snack times can sometimes feel stressful for parents and caregivers. Healthy Kids Community Challenge Peterborough has tips and tricks for you, your family, and community to make boosting veggies and fruit simple and fun for you and for kids in your life!
Veggies and Fruit at Every Meal and Snack are a great way to help kids and adults get the servings they need. Aim to have a vegetable or fruit “every time you eat”. If that doesn’t feel realistic, start by adding one extra serving of veggies or fruit to one meal or snack. Offering vegetables to children between meals, or serving fresh veggies and dip before dinner starts, can encourage kids to eat more. Encourage kids to spread nut or seed butter on celery, and add raisins, to make “ants on a log” for a snack, or let kids make vegetable or fruit skewers with colourful fresh veggies and fruit, and kabob sticks.
Try New Veggies and Fruit Together. Did you know that it can often take 8, 10, or even 30 times of trying a new food, for kids to accept it? Children are learning eaters, and it is normal for it to take time to learn to enjoy vegetables and fruit, just like it takes time to learn to read or ride a bicycle. Introducing new vegetables and fruit alongside foods that children are comfortable with can help. If they haven’t accepted broccoli yet, but enjoy rice and chicken, try offering broccoli alongside that meal. Applaud kids for trying new vegetables and fruit, even if they don’t choose to eat them all the first few times.
Get Involved with the JustFood Produce Box! One way to boost veggies and fruit with kids is to be part of making fresh produce available in your community. JustFood is a community-building program that works to provide respectful access to healthy affordable food for everyone. JustFood fresh produce boxes are offered on a sliding scale, and are a cost-effective way to try new veggies and fruit in the county and city of Peterborough. Boxes support local farmers and come with recipes highlighting ways to use produce in the box. JustFood boxes are packed by the Nourish Project twice per month and can be offered in your community, with help of contacts who take orders or pick up boxes from Peterborough and bring them to your community. To get involved with bringing the “JustFood” Produce Box to your community, call the YWCA at 705-743-3536.
At the end of the day, boosting veggies and fruit is about doing it together. Families and communities can bring kids into the process of growing vegetables, sitting down to eat a meal cooked together, or getting involved with bringing fresh produce into the community. Visit www.healthykidsptbo.ca for more ideas, tips and activities to boost veggies and fruit!
By Lauren Kennedy, MScFN, Registered Dietitian, Peterborough Public Health