The FoodCorps Chronicle: Erika VanDyke
In the war on unhealthy foods, FoodCorps member Erika VanDyke aims to win one battle at a time. "I try to get students to try just one bite of a new food. One bite can change their minds," she says.
At the two elementary schools where she works, VanDyke serves as a lunch coach -- a healthy-eating cheerleader of sorts. "During lunch, I go from table to table and suggest kids try the fruits and vegetables they have on their trays," she says. "I tell them, 'You don't have to like it, but you do have to try it.'"
When grapefruit was on the menu recently, VanDyke noticed much of it was going untouched. She offered stickers as a reward to anyone who sampled the sour citrus. "Some of the faces were priceless," she says. The result: Several new grapefruit fans -- and a whole lot of kids with stickers.
"Trying just one bite helps instill in them the undestanding that new foods aren't scary, and there's a chance they'll try more new foods down the road," VanDyke says.
Erika VanDyke is a FoodCorps service member working with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids in Grand Rapids, Michigan.