PENNSDALE - Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. People often use the mnemonic device of Roy G. Biv to remember the colors of the rainbow, but children recently learned it as a way to know the different kinds of colors of fruits and vegetables they need to be healthy.
Kids in the Kitchen, a free event sponsored by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Susquehanna Health, provided children an opportunity to learn how to eat healthy and still have fun at The LifeCenter in the Lycoming Mall last Tuesday.
Kathryn McKernan, Susquehanna Health's registered dietitian, had children ages 4 to 12 list different fruits and vegetables that correspond to the colors of the rainbow.
They shouted out answers such as strawberries, carrots, lemons, lettuce and blueberries.
When you eat different colors of fruits and vegetables, the body absorbs different kinds of vitamins and minerals it needs to be healthy.
McKernan also provided the group with paper plates, instructing the children to draw a happy face on them. She then asked the class for ideas of food that looks like body parts, such as using spaghetti for hair or kiwi pieces for eyes.
Three classes that day gave almost 50 children and their parents the opportunity to learn how to eat healthy, a concern for many, as childhood obesity is on the rise in the country.
"We're very committed to community health," said Jennifer R. Deemer, grant and program specialist for Blue Cross.
Part of the program involves teaching correct portion sizes.
Karen Baldys, a community health nurse for the state Department of Health, showed the attendees a table full of food - meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and desserts - but it was all fake.
Baldys held up a pack of cards, which showed the right size a portion of protein should be. For a serving of vegetables, a lightbulb size portion is correct. For fruit, a baseball is the correct size.
Individually, a serving size of a cookie should be as big as a yo-yo. If a cookie is as big as a CD, Baldys recommended sharing it with a friend.
Other recommendations were for a computer mouse-sized portion of spaghetti, a quarter teaspoon of oil, a matchbox size of cheese, butter the size of a single die and a tennis ball-sized portion of ice cream.
"We take our show on the road," she said. "It makes it easy to get the right foods."
The program also provided children an opportunity to try new things, even though some of them were not interested at first.
With the help of McKernan, they made veggies in a blanket, using healthy ingredients such as baby spinach, shredded cheese and carrots.
Some faces looked hesitant when they were told to try it, but one boy began rubbing his stomach with delight after he took his first bite.
The children also made a cream cheese fruit dip and trail mix for other healthy snacks during the event.
Since 2007, Blue Cross and Susquehanna Health have collaborated on community health outreach and early intervention programs for county residents through joint sponsorship of The LifeCenter.
Throughout the year, The LifeCenter will host other seminars and health events to educate children and families on health and wellness.