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Kids get nutritional look at food from farm to table

Alli Upchurch, 10, of Denver and Erin White, 9, of Shelby fill baskets with blackberries at Houser Farms in Vale, during a 4H fieldtrip on Wednesday.

AMANDA SEBASTIANO
Staff Writer

When taking a bite into a sandwich, often over-looked are the various steps it took to get that tomato – the process of planting, caring for and harvesting that tomato before it was able to be put on a salad or sold in local markets.
Lincoln County Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program worked on exploring that process with local students and 4-H’ers this week.
Extension agents Melinda Houser and Fran Senters led the Healthy Champions Challenge – a program that focuses on nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices, the importance of exercise and staying hydrated.
A 5-day curriculum of grocery store and local farm trips, followed with nutritious snacks to close out each day, kept the group of about 10 fairly busy from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Each participant was provided a pedometer to count his or her steps throughout the day as a means of encouraging physical activity through a competition of who can get the highest number.
The challenge is a hands-on approach that comes in response to an obesity epidemic in the country, and the increasing amount of weight-related diseases found in today’s children, Houser said.
The group met vendors at the Lincolnton Farmer’s Market, and also took a guided tour through the produce department of Ingles in Dallas, where the department manager identified various fruits and vegetables.
“We’re teaching them to take care of their bodies, and trying to introduce them to things they haven’t eaten before,” Houser told the Times-News this week.
Wednesday, a trip to an orchard just beyond the west Lincoln limits kicked off the day. The children later picked blackberries, and explored a corn field at Houser Farms in Vale.
Veggie wraps, peach smoothies and fruit salads were among the menu items for the week, all of which were made with the children’s help – 13-year-old Brianna Wood’s favorite part of the week, she told the Times-News on Wednesday.
In hopes of teaching life skills to county children, the program explains the link between the local farms and consumption.

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