GHS Creating “Choosy Kids” Through Healthy Eating Initiative

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Choosy Kids Mascot_180492

A lot of parents struggle with kids who are picky eaters, but Clemson University and the Greenville Health System are actually teaching children to be “choosy.”

What does it mean to be a choosy kid? The choosy acronym is “Choose Healthy Options and Start Young.

For nearly 200 preschoolers at North Franklin Road Head Start, it means they are making healthy choices for life.

With the help of a furry green alien named choosy with a penchant for fruit and grooving to pre-school approved beats, the “Choosy Kids: Farm to Belly” program is encouraging kids to prepare healthy meals with their families.

It’s the brain child of GHS obesity prevention coordinator, Kerry McKenzie. The 30 week initiative provides North Franklin students with a farmers market, sending each kid home with a weekly recipe bag of fruits and veggies to eat and prepare.

“Giving it to them is teaching them “wow, I really do like radishes and I love cucumbers when it has a little basil on it,” said McKenzie

Now, thanks to more than a dozen community partners and a $50 thousand dollar donation from TD Bank, the “Choosy Kids” program is expanding to other pre-schools, especially in areas where kids may not have access or resources to sustainable foods.

“We need to bring it to them and give them some ideas where to spend your WIC and SNAP and EBT dollars,” she said.

With childhood obesity on the rise, the hope of all “Choosy” organizers is to tackle the issue head on with a little bit of fun, lots of healthy choices and a mascot that is “out of this world.”

Clemson University released their initial findings on the choosy program. In 9 months, they saw a 40% improvement in student recognition of fruits and veggies. 95% of students were able to give reasons why they were a choosy kid, such as “I like vegetables” and “I like to play.”

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