WEEKLY WORKOUT: A summer meal program in Des Moines is helping kids stay active and make better nutritional choices at home

You’ll find the Summer Food Service Program at 19 sites around Des Moines. Kids, 18-years-old and younger, get a free lunch. At nine sites, they can get a free breakfast too.

“This is our milk mustache event so we’ll have Power Panther come and talk to us about eating healthy and being active,” says Lyn Jenkins, a Nutrition Education Specialist with the Des Moines School District.

Power Panther is the USDA’s nutrition mascot. His shirt, which reads, “Eat Smart, Play Hard,” says it all. For the first time the DMPS is incorporating exercise into the Summer Food Service Program.

Jenkins says the summer program helps kids retain the healthy lessons they’ve learned during the school year.

“When they go home, they ask for healthy snacks, for yogurt, for fruit, for things that are good for their bodies that will give them energy to be active.”

December Scott, a mother of five, tries to get her kids to eat healthy and stay active all year long. She believes fun activities like this also reinforce what she’s teaching at home.

“I try to get them to eat healthy We found out they were coming here yesterday and they couldn’t wait to get here. They were ready at 10:00 this morning.”

This meal is being served at Chesterfield Park, which also promotes exercise. Kids can play on the slide, run around the park or mile the Midwest Dairy Council Cow.

“Sometimes we don’t know where our food originates and the milk cow is a fun engaging activity for the kids too,” says Jenkins.

And with a milk mustache, it’s a picture perfect way to learn about the benefits of eating right and staying active.


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