The Iberia Parish Library’s St. Peter Street branch became the “Kid’s Farmers Market,” giving summer workshop participants the opportunity to experience locally grown foods first-hand Saturday morning.

“The program fits hand in glove with the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant,” Marti Harrell, BestLife Iberia program manager, said.

BestLife Iberia recently received a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana to promote healthy living. With this grant, BestLife was able to sponsor the workshop to teach children about different fruits, vegetables and ways to stay active.

“It gets kids closer to their food,” Harrell said.

Seventy children got to meet the farmers, learn about different foods and nutrition facts and taste fruits and vegetables, Harrell said.

The “Kid’s Farmers Market” featured a number of different activities such as a chance for children to use “BestLife bucks” to purchase fresh food from local farmers, a tasting of fresh fruit, vegetables and honey, a fitness area with games and activities and a fruit and vegetable identification game with fun nutritional facts.

Vendors at the market included Miss Jane’s Jams, Jellies and Goodies; P&B Produce; The Garden Shed; Acadiana Grower’s Alliance; Sugar City Grower’s Co-op; 4-H members; the LSU AgCenter; Landry Farms Honey and the New Iberia Recreation Department Fitness program.

“They’re like the agricultural Avengers assembling to make this happen,” Sami Haggood, Iberia Parish Library Summer Workshop Coordinator, said of the volunteers. “They are a team of superheroes in our community.”

Haggood said he was very excited for this workshop. He is a volunteer with BestLife and said he hoped the workshop would provide an opportunity to expose as many children as possible to the idea of a healthier lifestyle.

“Nutrition education is one of the main tools the LSU AgCenter uses to combat childhood obesity,” Mandy Armentor said. She is the area nutrition agent for Iberia and Vermilion parishes with the LSU AgCenter.

Armentor said she has been working with BestLife for one-and-a-half years, providing nutrition information and offering fruit and vegetable tastings at the Acadiana Grower’s Alliance market. Armentor said fruit and vegetable tastings are a great way to introduce children to new foods they have never tasted.

“I want to learn how to make new foods,” Grace Boutte, 14, a workshop participant, said.

Boutte said she likes to cook and mostly uses onions and bellpeppers in her recipes. She said the workshop has made her more excited about eating healthy.

Harrell said her hopes for the workshop are that children taste different things and find out what they like. She said if they find a new food they like, hopefully they will ask their parents to buy some and influence their family to eat healthier.



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