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KIWI kids check veggies at market

Children in the Kid's Club expanded program at Cottage Grove Elementary School went to the farmers market at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood last week to learn more about locally grown fruits and vegetables.

With activities directed by Friendchip Farm Club, kids participated in a scavenger hunt, Food Pyramid Nutrition Toss, watched a cooking demonstration using locally grown food and did a puzzle that helped them sort out foods that are more healthful from those that are high in calories and fat.

Cottage Grove Kid's Club kids are participating in KIWI (Kids International Wellness Initiative) this summer. Under the program, kids are asked to increase physical activities, eat more fruits and vegetables, swap video and computer time for more creative play and help others.

Earlier this summer, the kids helped harvest produce at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale for food shelves.

By taking part in the activities, kids earn points that convert into cash that is sent to the New Hope For Africa Orphanage in Uganda. The money comes from local fundraising by District 833 Community Education.

During the farmers market scavenger hunt, vendors gave the children free vegetables to take home.

Kids reactions to eating the vegetables varied. Ari Stanness, who admits she is a picky eater, said for the time being, she'll stick with eating corn. Kaitlyn Schmitz, at the other end of the spectrum, said she would try eating kohlrabi, a vegetable she hasn't seen before.

After the activities, kids were allowed to shop for items with their own money. Most opted to buy vegetables, and the message to eat more fruits and vegetables seems to be getting through.

Amanda Mueske bought honey from a grower because she likes to eat it on toast. "I also love cucumbers and zucchini," she said.

Nick Thorson bought onions and zucchini and MaKayla Gille bought squash.

Mason Porter bought a dozen ears of corn for his family and Amir Cooper bought long beans.

"I thought they would taste good," he said.

Kids in the Cottage Grove Elementary School KIWI program, and those at Middleton Elementary School in Woodbury participated for most of the summer, according to Sue McKeown, community education educator.

"I can't believe how excited the kids are about KIWI," McKeown said.

For information about KIWI, or to donate money for the orphanage, go to

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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