May’s Great Start Parent Coalition Meeting – Eating Healthy and Making it Fun!

Our May coalition meeting was amazing! Given Cinco de Mayo just passed, it was more than fitting that we celebrated with Mexican food from Stan Diego Baja Taco Kitchen along with cookies and yogurt parfaits for dessert.  The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum provided our kids with an activity filled with compassion for others. They were able to decorate brown paper lunch bags for Kids’ Food Basket. After the children headed off to childcare the parents were encouraged to get up and participate in an icebreaker in which they were divided into two teams with a goal to line each person in their group by birth month order. Seems easy right? The catch: they were not able to talk! The winning team won bragging rights and a little chocolate. Who doesn’t like chocolate right?

Our presenters from the Kent ISD Snap Ed program started their presentation off with a mystery box activity entitled “What’s in The Box?” Participants were encouraged to reach in the box, feel what was inside and take guesses on what food item was included in the box. The big mystery revealed…it was spinach! The presenters also had spinach on each table and they encouraged everyone in the room to first SMELL the spinach, then LISTEN to the spinach (by squeezing the stem of the spinach) and finally to TASTE the spinach. After everyone had the opportunity to taste the spinach she asked for the participants to give a THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN, or SIDE THUMB regarding their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the spinach. She stated that it’s okay if the taste is not pleasant for some and a THUMBS DOWN is given, but she tries to discourage verbal dissatisfaction, including “yucks.” In her experience 98% of the kids who try spinach, via the process noted above, like it.

To get kids to try new foods, try a mystery box to explore the new food. This technique also makes trying a new food a little less scary and more enjoyable as you are making a game out of it. In addition, the more you can get your kids involved in picking out new fruits or vegetables at the store, the more inclined they may be to try something that they “helped” pick out. Also involve them in helping prepare lunch or dinner with fresh fruits or vegetables too!

Another important aspect of MyPlate is to make sure that half of the plate consists of fruits and vegetables. Lastly, remember that YOU are the most important influence on your child and children learn by example!

At the end of our meeting, we recognized our COFI (Community Organizing and Family Issues) Spring 2019 graduates! We are so very proud of these parents who are becoming leaders in our community. Be on the lookout for great things coming from this group of amazing parents within the next six months!


Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start.