Food Day for Kids brings new perspective on healthy eating

By Summer Crawford

Staff Writer

Everyone has different agendas for Saturdays, whether it is spending time with friends and family, running errands or choosing to do something else. For some, their time is spent mingling and buying organic and locally grown foods at the Coppell Farmers Market in Old Town Coppell.

Farmers Market
Dozens of Coppell residents and families with children came to the Food Day for Kids hosted by the Coppell Farmers Market, ready to learn about healthy foods. Photo by Summer Crawford

The Coppell Farmers Market has been around since 2003, regularly set up every Saturday for anyone to come on down and see what the local farmers have grown. Vendors are set up along the edges of the Farmers Market, selling their organic produce. This Saturday, Oct. 19, was a day dedicated to children.

On Oct. 19, the market hosted its third annual Food Day for Kids, a nationwide celebration of choosing healthy foods. Families from Coppell were encouraged to bring their children to help them experience the tastes of vegetables and fruits. Hands-on activities and lessons on nutrition were available for children to partake in, along with vendors who had child size portions available.

Adults stood at the front of the market offering sunglasses and a fun treasure map for the kids to follow on their journey throughout the market to find healthy foods. Parents tagged along with their children and helped them locate the needed materials to complete the treasure hunt and learn something new about food.

For many families, it was their first time coming to the market and participating in the Food Day. Coppell resident and mother Maxine Pigott was one of the newcomers.

“I like the locality of all of the organic fruits and vegetables available, and how close they are,” Pigott said. “We have our own family and to be able to come to the Farmers Market where everyone is friendly is great. There are so many new people to talk to and to meet.”

Among the crowd of regular customers and vendors, was another newcomer to this national event. As a mother, Brittany Grandbois thought this was a great experience for her children and liked the overall atmosphere.

“All of the people are really nice here and they make you feel welcome. This is good for families because the same people are here every Saturday morning, and so it gives the place a nice community feel,” Grandbois said.

Not only did the local customers enjoy themselves and think the Food Day for Kids was a success, but the vendors also had a good time talking with the children and helping them complete their treasure map. Alec Marsh, a vendor who has been a part of the market for three and a half years, had his usual croissant booth set up.

“People get to help the smaller farmers in the town and to help people start to eat as much organic, healthy foods as possible. It is a very safe environment for families, who love to bring their kids and dogs along with them,” Marsh said.

Although Marsh was not one of the booths children needed materials to complete their treasure map from, he talked with many families and make them feel welcome.

Among the booths of vendors scattered throughout the market were professional chefs aiming to make a positive impact on the children. Chef Victoria Hooker was in charge of the salad bowl booth, not afraid to go out of her way to greet people and urge children to visit her station. This was her second year of participation in the Food Day for Kids.

“I love talking with the kids and talking about eating nutritional foods. It is a way to get kids to try and eat new foods that they haven’t eaten before. I try to get the kids to think outside of the box,” Hooker said. “Food Day for Kids is important education for the kids so that they can learn new things. All of the items at my booth are free take-aways because I want them to take something with them and to make an impact on their lives.”

Hooker believes that this event was an initiative to get kids to eat healthy all around the world. She believes in the the movement toward eating healthy and sustainable food.

“I believe this was a Michelle Obama initiative, and also the American Culinary Federation was a big factor in starting this event since October is the food awareness month for children,” Hooker said.

Another chef that shares the same passion and loves talking to children about healthy eating habits is Coppell ISD Chef Helen Duran. She was the last activity on the childrens’ treasure maps, called “Stump the Chef.” She gave children ideas on how to use the fruits or vegetables that they had collected.

“I like to think that the idea of food is fun, and to cook food and be around food is fun. I think having curiosity- what does it taste like? is important for kids. I want them to be curious about new foods and not be scared,” Duran said. “The community at this event is great. It emphasizes the whole health and well-being of the town of Coppell.”

Families, vendors and chefs all had a wonderful time experiencing meeting new people and learning about how food can be fun and still be healthy. Everyone hopes to continue on with the tradition of Food Day for Kids next year and have even more families come.