South Suburban YMCA Teaching Kids about Healthy Eating

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DES MOINES, Iowa - The South Suburban YMCA is adding more programming to get kids - and the rest of the community it serves - healthier.

The Y's "Pick a Better Snack" program, for instance, is one example. A partnership with Des Moines Public Schools and Hy-Vee, the program allows kids who participate in DMPS' summer meal program at the South Suburban Y site to try healthy snack options every Thursday. This Thursday, a Hy-Vee dietitian introduced kids to carrots and hummus.

Another new feature at the Y is a community garden planted on the grounds just last week. The garden features 20 trees, ranging from apple, peach, pear, serviceberry, and cherry, as well as a raised bed garden with grapes, rhubarb, and strawberries. While it's expected to take about three years for the trees to mature enough to bear fruit, the idea is to create a learning and gathering space where members of the community can access free, healthy food.

"We want it to be a place where people can come and meet one another, learn something, and pick fruit right off the tree," said Tyler Weig, executive director of the South Suburban Y.

Gardening classes and other educational programming will also be held at the community garden. For kids, Weig says this is a further push to introduce healthy lifestyles at a young age, and for adults, he hopes the garden brings the community together and provides it a useful service in the form of fresh, free fruit.

You might start seeing more birds at the Y, as well; a community service class donated seven bluebird houses to the facility Thursday. Students in the class are hanging these birdhouses up around the grounds of the Y this summer.

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