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Children 'get fit, be strong' at nutrition fair at Fort Bragg

By Michelle Butzgy/Paraglide

Fort Bragg | March 30, 2012

Preschoolers and students from Fort Bragg Schools learned how to make healthy food choices and keep fit through different activities at the 2012 Nutrition Fest held at Tolson Youth Activities Center, March 23.

"Our goal is for the children to learn something about nutrition, whether it's hands on or just talking to the adults at the tables," said Beverly Sanders, a nutritionist with Fort Bragg Child Youth and School Services.

Each child received a 'goodie' bag with a jump rope and information about nutrition as they entered the center. Activities included Fish for Nutrition where children cast a fishing pole into a "pond" filled with healthy snacks, the Army Community Service puppet show with Iron Mike and various sports and fitness games to play. Face painting, 'tattoos' and different food and fitness vendors rounded out the fair.

"We have plant a vegetable (booth) where the children go by and get a scoop of soil and two seeds. They can take it home and watch their plant grow," said Sanders.

Timia Goforth watched her son, Khi Burrell, 3, get a tattoo at one of the booths in the Tolson middle school gym with other members of his class from Rogers CDC. The top lesson she wanted her son to learn at the nutrition fair was the importance of eating right.

"He likes vegetables so that's a good start," said Goforth, wife of Marcus Burrell, a contractor deployed to Afghanistan.

Katherine Sopp, a dietitian from Womack Army Medical Center, showed children "MyPlate," part of an effort by U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase public awareness of the importance of choosing nutritious foods for a healthy meal. Children could choose from different types of food models to create a meal on the plate divided into five food groups.

"March is National Nutrition Month so it's a great time to promote nutrition, especially with the young children, getting them to eat their fruits, vegetables and dairy products," said Sopp. "We're teaching them about kid-friendly vegetables and how they can get more fruits and vegetables in their diet."

Sgt. Christian Roess, a nutrition care specialist augmentee to Army Dietitian, had some tips for parents on how to get their children to eat healthier.

"The best thing is to set a good example, lead from the front," he said. "Once (children) see parents eating those foods, even the foods they don't like, they're going to do it."

For those really picky eaters, Roess suggested trying a new food at least 10 to 15 times to decide whether they like it or not.

"Even when they're going to fast food restaurants, take the time to sit down with the Family and talk about what they're eating because there are some healthy food choices even at those places," he said. 

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