Nina Vanderwiel, Crystal Lake mom of three, knows first-hand how hard it can be to "convince" kids to eat their fruits and veggies. So, she came up with a fun, interactive & innovative program, unique because it looks at fruits & veggies through the eyes of a child, making healthy eating fun and encouraging them to develop healthy eating habits for life. “Like all moms, making sure my kids eat healthy is a priority, but getting them to eat fruits and veggies used to be a daily struggle,” Vanderwiel said. “Once I started talking in terms they understood, telling them how fruits and veggies are superheroes that fight off germs and colds, they learned to appreciate and love their veggies.”

With the help of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital and Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen, Vanderwiel is piloting her Fruits & Veggies to the Rescue! Program at Crystal Lake School District 47. She already has introduced her program at schools and park districts in Woodstock, Barrington, Schaumburg, Randall Oaks and Mundelein. Linnea Mason, community outreach director for the hospital, reports that if these pilot presentations prove successful, the plan is to make Fruits & Veggies to the Rescue! a permanent supplement to the CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) curriculum, a nationwide health initiative to promote physical activity and healthy eating among children. On Monday, February 24, Vanderwiel brought the program to St. John’s Little Blessings Learning Center in Union, thanks to a donation by a local family who wanted this program to help them celebrate their daughter’s birthday at the school. Pre-schoolers, ages 3 and 4, and kindergarteners, enjoyed a hands-on edible creative activity with fruits and vegetables before getting to snack on some of the fresh food. They were sent home with an Adventure Token redeemable for a free video rental, sticker and a free produce item from Wisted’s Supermarket, who also donated the fruits and vegetables for the program.

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