You work hard all the time to set a good example, serve nourishing foods, and keep healthy snacks around the house…and yet sometimes it’s what a kid sees all of his friends eating that gets him most excited about trying something new.
Our fourth-grader came home the other day declaring that his new favorite snack was apples with sunflower butter. “We HAVE to buy sunflower butter!” he announced. When we told him that we already have sunflower butter in the pantry, and we’ve pretty much always had it, he declared, “Well, NOW I like it.”
What was the magical turnaround for him? Our school’s Growing Great program, which brings trained volunteer instructors into elementary schools to help kids learn about where food comes from and how to make healthy nutritional choices. This week’s lesson talked about lower-quality foods versus higher-quality foods and the kids had to identify the better option: Apple juice or apple? Chicken nuggets or chicken? French fries or a baked potato? Then they all got a chance to sample sunflower butter with apples…and once everyone realized how tasty it was, it became the “cool” snack to eat. (Frankly, it’s a lot more cool to eat something that your friends like than something that your mom tells you is good for you.)
Later that week, after school, a friend brought over some apples from her tree, some kids came over, and soon we had a crowd of people happily chowing down on apples with sunflower butter. Would the kids have been as excited about it if, the parents, had simply declared it a healthy food and plopped it down on the table? Probably not. That’s just one of the reasons we’re happy to have Growing Great in our school and we’re grateful to the parent docents who keep it going.