By Lisa Harkins, RD, LDN, Community Nutritionist
Remember when you were a kid and you’d make smiley faces out of peas on your plate, and mountains out of your mashed potatoes? And your mom would say sternly, “Stop playing with your food!” Well, Snack Art encourages kids to do just that: have fun with their food.
Snack Art is constructing an animal’s likeness out of healthy food items for kids to gobble up as they learn about the MyPyramid, and I have the distinct pleasure of facilitating this nutrition activity. If you follow this blog you have probably “met” me before; my name is Lisa Harkins and I am the Community Nutritionist for Kent and Sussex Counties for the Food Bank of Delaware.
Wednesday’s class at My Family Resource Center was a blast. I reviewed the MyPyramid for Kids with the children, and explained to them that we were going to make a snack that included the Fruit, Grain, Dairy (if they chose light cream cheese) and Meat and Bean (if they chose peanut butter) food groups.
I proceeded to create my Snack Art “cow” (or bull if you will since “she” had horns!): rice cake for the “face”, peanut butter or cream cheese for the “fur”, raisins for the eyes, a dried apricot and 2 oat cereal pieces for the snout, grape halves for the ears, and banana halves for the horns.
The kids were super excited to create the cow. Many had never had rice cakes, and most hadn’t had a dried apricot and enjoyed them very much. All loved the bananas. The staff at My Family Resource Center was wonderful. It is a family-run center and you can feel the care and love from owner Betty and her children.
When the kids were finished snacking, I had them complete a MyPyramid-related activity, and we talked about healthier food choices (such as fruits, veggies, whole grain products and low-fat dairy), and which foods they could enjoy but in moderation (like cookies, chips, and soda). I gave the kids a MyPyramid for Kids mini-poster to take home, as well as a healthy snack choices handout. The children also got a booklet filled with healthy eating tips and recipes to take home to their family.
I distributed evaluations, and was elated to learn the kids really enjoyed the class, and actually learned something! The last question asked “How could this program be better?” and one child wrote: “It is better.” Out of the mouths of babes!