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Monday, July 26, 2010

DC SCORES summer campers get nutritional lesson at grocery store

Last Thursday, kids from DC SCORES’ summer camp at Bruce Monroe Elementary School jumped on the metro and headed to Columbia Heights’ Giant grocery store.

Undoubtedly, all of the kids had been in a grocery store before alongside their parents. But never had they received an in-depth tour of such a store. And never had they been asked to explain what the two numbers on a package of meat — the lean meat and the fat — mean. This was part of the educational experience they received as a Giant employee walked them down many of the store’s aisles, explaining which foods are good, integral parts of a daily diet and which ones should be almost always avoided — among other things.

“What do you want the most of?” the woman asked at the end of the tour.

“Fruits and veggies and grains!” the group exclaimed.


The tour was the culminating learning experience during nutrition week at the camp, which taught the 30 or so participants about eating right. Led by Sasha, a volunteer from DC Central Kitchen, the campers learned about the new and improved food pyramid and played many interactive games to further ingrain important nutrition information in their heads.

For example, they were given paper plates and asked to put the different types of food into the sections of their plates. They also figured out how many servings of each kind of food they should have on their plate. From there, a little math was needed as the kids figured out how many calories were included in each serving of a particular food type and then added them all up.

So when the group of DC SCORES summer campers entered the air-conditioned confines of Giant Thursday, they had a pretty good idea of the foods to eat daily, the foods to eat less frequently, and the foods to avoid. But one more comprehensive lesson couldn’t hurt.

Especially when it came to the meat aisle. When the guide pointed to the lean/fat numbers on the packages of meat, the students’ reactions showed that they had never heard of such a thing before. “Ninety-three over 7, is that good or bad?” the guide asked. After a brief hesitation, the group somewhat cautiously answered, “Good.”

The lesson had been learned.

Of course, a tour of a grocery store is full of distractions, and the kids got a kick out of watching the live lobsters swim in their tank. And when asked what’s in the produce department, the silly reply of “chicken!” was blurted out.

But it was also apparent by the end of the tour that the half hour hadn’t been spent in vain. When one participant asked, “How about organic?” as the group walked down the fruit aisle, you could tell the message really was getting through.

A successful trip to the grocery store, indeed.

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