By SCOTT VIAU
BARAGA - Getting kids to eat their fruits and vegetables can be a daunting task, but Health Educator Bridgete Durocher of the Western U.P. Health Department has a way that she says is working - and makes it fun for kids, too. Through the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Education program, Durocher will visit a preschool in the Copper Country about once every three weeks in order to teach them about healthy new snacks, or dairy or how to grow their own vegetables.
Scott Viau/Daily Mining Gazette
Bridgete Durocher (standing) teaches a Baraga Head Start class about healthy eating. Left of Durocher counter clockwise is Marissa (last name not given), Ginger Clements, Heezhig Sandman-Shelifoe, Aubrey Duerkop, Liam Inal, Elisa Delene, Alexis Verville, Abbygail Gibson, Charles Huffman and Elaine Klemm-Schultz. The students (and teachers) were excited to create and then consume their healthy treats.
"We also come to the parents night once a month and we work with the parents to help them teach their children how to cook on their own so they're not always relying on fast food."
Wednesday Durocher visited a Baraga Head Start class to teach kids about "magic wands," which despite sounding like something out of "Harry Potter," this magic wand gives kids the tools to eat healthily. Upon a skewer, Durocher placed grapes, a cube of cheese and topped it off with a star shaped piece of watermelon (although heart-shaped ones were also available) giving the appearance of a "magic wand."
Inside the classroom, the kids were just waking up from a nap and eager to try out their healthy treats. Around a table they all sat while Durocher explained to them what exactly the "magic wand" consisted of. The kids then took their turn making their own wands, which they made quick work of in eating.
Durocher said she will contact the schools to see if they are interested in having her do a presentation of healthy eating, adding that the kids and parents really like it.
"We have a lot of parents that don't cook so we've taught them how to make homemade pizzas and how to cut up vegetables," Durocher said.
For the most part the kids are receptive to learning about new foods, but sometimes kids may wrinkle their nose at the offerings.
"If it's a food they don't like we'll put it in with something they do like," Durocher said. "Then they'll usually eat the whole thing. Tomatoes are ones they don't like because of the texture so we'll put it in with carrots. If you can get a few of them eating it, the ones that are more afraid will try it."
Head Start Teacher Elaine Klemm-Schultz said the program was a great fit for their curriculum.
"It's part of our healthy eating program," Klemm-Schultz said.
Additional Head Start instructor Ginger Clements said the program has been fantastic.
"(The kids) have really been engaged in everything," Clements said.
Any schools interested in having Durocher teach kids about healthy eating may contact her at the Western U.P. Health Department.