MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Encouraging healthy eating is usually a headache for most parents, but Midway Park Community Center’s weekly Silly Snacks event uses fruits, veggies and other treats to create colorful and creative goodies to nibble and munch on.
Every Wednesday at 10 a.m., parents and their children gather to make eating fun.
Participants make snacks such as homemade ice cream or arrange treats to look like animals or seasonal items like back to school pencils and school buses.
However, kids do more than play with their food during the program, said Victoria Braggiotti-Brown, the recreation specialist with Midway Park Community Center.
Making the treats themselves helps the children learn independence and staff members help reinforce skills such as counting and colors to the children.
“The kids get to be creative,” said Braggiotti-Brown. “They love it.”
Presenting nutritious food in a fun way also strengthens healthy eating habits, Braggiotti-Brown added. Parents occasionally share stories of how Silly Snacks helped their children make positive food choices.
For instance, a child who refused to eat bell peppers ate them with enthusiasm after being reminded by his parents he had once made a sailboat from the vegetable at the event, she said.
The snacks are appealing to children and adults. Treats are sometimes sweet, but healthy food is used regularly and seasonal vegetables are a frequent focus.
“It’s a little treat for (my daughter,)” said Robin Camia, a parent at the program.
Camia limits her child’s sweets intake and uses Silly Snacks as a way to offer her daughter a weekly treat.
While Camia and program staff make some substitutions to the treats offered, the program provides a small weekly indulgence for her daughter.
By offering her habitual snacks, Camia feels her daughter will not feel deprived of sweets as she grows older and, as a result, won’t binge on junk food.
Staff members can accommodate dietary restrictions with prior notice for participating children.
“We want kids (with special dietary needs) to be able to do everything with the other kids,” said Braggiotti-Brown.
Camia’s also uses the event to allow her daughter to socialize with other children her age.
“I wanted to bring her out of her shell,” said Camia. “This is a great program for adults with kids who aren’t in school yet.”
Kristina White took her son, an only child, to the program so he could spend time with other children.
“The first week he stayed back, now he’s mingling with the other children,” said White.
It also provides an opportunity for parents to socialize and to spend time with other members of the military community.
“It’s a great program in general,” said Camia. “(Programs like this) help people deal with being away from home or your spouse. Parents worry about what they will do once a spouse deploys. Programs like this help you realize there are a lot of things to do.”
She continued, “Camp Lejeune offers a lot of programs to make families feel at home. I’m grateful for the sense of community.”
For more information, visit mccslejeune.com/mpcc or call 451-1807.
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