Information for Caregivers


HKCC Theme Three - Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit

We all know about the importance of veggies and fruit for the entire family. But did you know that almost two-thirds of children ages 2 to 17 do not meet the Canada's Food Guide recommendation of at least five servings per day?

Caregivers have the opportunity to influence children's eating habits at a young age so that they can grow to be strong and healthy into adulthood. Over the next few months, Theme Three will be about encouraging kids and families to make vegetables or fruit part of every meal and snack!

Why Boost Veggies and Fruit?

Vegetable and Fruit Recommendations

How Much is One Food Guide Serving?

Strategies for the Whole Family

HKCC Theme Three Activities across Waterloo Region

Veggie and Fruit Resources

Contact

For more information on HKCC Theme Three, check out these resources:

Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit Fact Sheet for Parents and Caregivers

Why Veggies and Fruit? Infographic

Seasonal Availability Chart for Ontario Vegetables and Fruit


Why boost vegetables and fruit

Veggies and fruit go hand-in-hand with healthy eating. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit has the following benefits for children:

  • They contain vitamins, minerals and fibre which are important for health
  • May prevent certain types of cancer
  • It's linked to a lower risk of heart disease
  • Supports healthy weights and a lower risk of obesity

Vegetable and fruit recommendations

Canada's Food Guide recommends that children eat at least the following number of vegetable and fruit servings per day:

2-3 year olds  4-8 year olds 9-13  year olds
4 servings

5 servings

6 servings

Here are some extra tips:

  • Offer at least one dark green vegetable (asparagus, broccoli, green peas, spinach, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, etc.) and one orange vegetable or fruit (carrots, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, etc.) per day
  • Whole veggies and fruit are more nutritious than juice. Choose to drink water and milk instead of juice or soda
  • Choose fresh, frozen, or canned veggies and fruit--all options are nutritious! Look for canned veggies with less salt content or rinse to reduce the salt content before eating.
  • Enjoy veggies and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt! Steam, bake, or stir-fry your veggies instead of deep frying them.
  • Some products have "vegetable" or "fruit" in their name but do not belong in the vegetable and fruit food group. Examples of these foods include fruit gummies, vegetable chips, fruit jams, ketchup and fruit punch. Choose whole vegetables and fruit most often!

How much is one food guide serving?

One serving of vegetables One serving of fruit

┬Ż cup or 1 ear of corn

┬Ż cup or 4 florets of cauliflower or broccoli

┬Ż cup or 1 large carrot

┬Ż cup or 6 spears of asparagus

┬Ż cup of cooked fresh, frozen or canned veggies (squash, beans, carrots, okra)

1 cup of raw, leafy greens (romaine, kale, spinach)

┬Ż cup of whole tomato or tomato sauce

1 medium apple, orange, peach, pear

1 medium or half of a large banana

20 cherries or grapes

┬Ż cup of fresh or frozen berries, melon or mango


Strategies for the whole family

  • Include at least one serving of vegetables and fruit at every meal and snack to help your child meet the recommendation of 4-6 servings daily.
  • Keep on offering favourites, as well as, introducing new vegetables and fruit at home. Most children need to try a new food 8-10 times before they like it!
  • Be a good role model! If your child sees you eating vegetables and fruit, he or she will be more likely to eat them too.
  • Involve children in school lunch prep! Let them choose which veggies and fruit they want packed.
  • Leave a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter for an easy grab-and-go snack!
  • Give veggies and fruit the leading role! Show your children how to fill half their plate with veggies and fruit at meals.
  • Visit a local farmers' market with your children and talk to a farmer about how to prepare an unfamiliar vegetables or fruit!

HKCC Theme Three activities across Waterloo Region

Our community is looking for ways to make it easier for kids to choose veggies and fruit more often through:

  • Increasing access and availability in places where kids spend time
  • Improving kids' knowledge, skills, and behaviours around healthy eating

For Theme Three of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, there will be several activities taking place across Waterloo Region to encourage children and families to include vegetables or fruit in every meal and snack in order to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. These activities are described below.

Community Gardens

Vegetable gardens will be installed in schools, neighbourhoods, and recreation spaces to engage children, families, and educators in food-based gardening. Local organizations will also be installing food hedges ("fedges"), which will provide a unique setting where children and families can come together to play, explore, and learn about growing food. The fedges will also provide accessible local produce for our neighbourhood communities.

Food Skills Promotion

Local community centres and farmers' markets will provide programming on preparing and cooking meals with vegetables and fruit, to educate and engage children and families and improve food literacy. Grocery store tours will be organized to provide learning opportunities for students, which will include vegetable and fruit tasting activities.

Live Theatre Performances

The "Water you Drinking?" live theatre performances that were presented to children in the community during Theme Two proved to be a big hit. For Theme Three, this "edutainment" style intervention will continue, focusing on the benefits of eating vegetables or fruit at each meal.

Creating a Sustainable Community Food System Model

A local research project will take place to look at community food distribution models that connect local growers, farmers' markets, and people in need. The goal of this project is to help create a food box program that improves accessibility and intake of vegetables and fruit.


Veggie and fruit resources 

For more information about incorporating veggies and fruit into the diet of your family, see the following links:

Tips for Vegetables and Fruit

Help! My kids won't eat enough vegetables and fruits

When Your Child Does Not Eat Vegetables

How to Freeze Fruit

How to Blanch and Freeze Vegetables

Green Thumb badge from BrightBites.ca

Paint Your Plate badge from BrightBites.ca


Contact

For more information about the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, or for additional resources, contact: healthykids@regionofwaterloo.ca

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