By Valerie Shelton | Reporter
On Monday, a group of 30 youngsters enjoyed mid-morning snacks they prepared themselves at Sprouts Farmers Market.
The Clovis area kids, ranging in age from two to 12, gathered in front of the grocery store to hear the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and design their own edible caterpillars using celery, peanut butter and an assortment of fresh berries.
“The very hungry caterpillar got a belly ache,” Wesley McRoberts, who leads the Little Sprouties workshops explained to the kids. And it’s no wonder he did, according to McRoberts’ revised version of the story, the caterpillar munches on everything from chocolate cake and ice cream to a Swiss cheese and salami—not exactly an ideal diet for a future butterfly. McRoberts used the story to demonstrate the importance of eating healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, and how those foods keep the digestive system working right.
The July 10 workshop was the first of six which will be held on Mondays at 11 a.m. this summer. The Little Sprouties program, which is exclusive to the Clovis Sprouts location, began last summer after McRoberts got the idea from a concerned parent.
“A mom came in last year and she was talking to me and she wanted someplace to take her kid that had healthy food options,” McRoberts said. “People always take their kids to McDonald’s because of the play place, but they end up eating something unhealthy and this mom said she didn’t want her kids eating that junk, so I talked to my boss and told him this was a good opportunity for us to start something. I like to say I grow my own customers at Sprouts.”
McRoberts leads each workshop centered around a nutritional activity and games. The only change this year from last is that McRoberts has added a game where she shows the kids an object and then hides it in the store. Whoever finds it when they go shopping with their parents is then given a prize.
Parents said they are glad Sprouts is offering the educational and nutritional program.
“I’m a stay at home mom and it gets really boring so this is a nice activity to add to my schedule,” said Dawn Davari, a parent of seven. “It’s great to have something for them to do and it’s free and it’s close so you can’t beat that. We also get good ideas for things we can do at home.”
“It’s nice that they can come and learn about food and something that is healthy and learn that fruits and vegetables don’t have to be yucky. They can be fun and they are good for you,” Cyndi Massa, mom to 8-year-old Avery said. “I love it. It’s important for kids to see what healthy eating looks like. It is perfect because I think it speaks to every age level, it’s not just for little kids. I think what they are doing here speaks to people of all ages.”
The Little Sprouties program has seen a growth spurt this year, as 30 kids is its largest group yet. Last summer, McRoberts said the average number of kids participating was 10, with the most being 19 at one workshop. If the popularity of Little Sprouties continues, McRoberts said they may have to look for a larger space. McRoberts is also hopeful that other Sprouts locations will implement the program in the future.