Alpena Farmers Market Kids Day: Encouraging Kids to Eat their Veggies and Get Active

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

Get your kids to step out of their veggie comfort zone this weekend at the Alpena Farmers Market.
The 8th annual Kids Day gives them a chance to try tons of different vegetables served up by the Friends of the Alpena Farmers Market and donated by area farmers. For every vegetable and fruit they try, they’ll get a ticket that will be entered into a raffle to win a new bike.
The day not only encourages widening kids’ healthy tastes, but will also feature live music, hay rides, a petting zoo, pumpkin painting, cider making demonstrations, face painting, and games. A special pond is being constructed using hay bales where kids will also be able to learn how to kayak.
Kids Day takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 27 at the corner of Park Place and Harbor Drive in Alpena.
Farmers Market President J.B. Cook, who is also a physician’s assistant, said it often feels like we’re fighting a losing battle getting kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Advertisements for fast and processed foods are everywhere, and many households lack access to fresh foods or find them unaffordable. Despite the obstacles, Cook said fruits and vegetables are key to solving a major children’s health problem.
“I just think there’s such a bad epidemic with childhood obesity right now,” he said.
In fact, Michigan has the 18th highest childhood obesity rate in the United States, with 32.6% of youth in Michigan considered overweight or obese.
In Cook’s experience, watching his three children and other kids at the market try new veggies such as rutabagas or hot peppers, they’re really not such a hard sell. He says kids often want seconds and it’s the parents who tend to be the most surprised by what their children actually do enjoy.
Jim Hiske sells a wide variety of produce at the market. When his five grandchildren come to grandpa’s house for dinner, they know they’re going to eat vegetables. He said setting that expectation has helped in his family. Hiske said he often serves a variety of fruits and veggies at mealtimes so if there’s one they don’t enjoy, there’s another option.
He said the Kids Day event at the market is typically a big success and it’s needed to introduce healthy living habits to kids and their parents.
“At a young age, they’re not physically fit and their eating habits are terrible,” Hiske said.
Blue Care Network is a sponsor of Kids Day. At the BCN booth, kids and their parents will receive information about the BCBS Good Health Club, which aims to get kids to remember these four numbers to improve their health every day:
  • Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies.
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours or less.
  • Get at least 1 hour of physical activity.
  • Limit sweetened drinks to 0.
The 5-2-1-0 idea is echoed throughout Kids Day, with samples of tons of fruits and vegetables, activity demonstrations that don’t focus on electronics, and water as the main drink option, Cook explained.
Through the BCBSM #MIKidsCan movement,all Michigan kids and their parents are encouraged to take charge of their health through regular physical activity and healthy eating. The Alpena Farmers Market Kids Day is the perfect partnership to bring this initiative to life.
Photo credit: michel bish
This blog post is part of #MIKidsCan, an initiative created by Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan to promote positive change in the health and well-being of Michigan youth. To learn more about the campaign, visit

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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