2 min read
A family shopping at Piggly Wiggly.

ASHVILLE, Ala. — On Feb. 3, 2024, the local Piggly Wiggly became an educational marketplace for the third graders of Ashville Elementary. Students Chloe Rodman, Olivia Kennedy and Kaitlyn Weldon — accompanied by their families — navigated through the produce aisles, making thoughtful selections of fruits and vegetables. This unique shopping experience was the culmination of a 15-week nutrition program, Body Quest, which promotes healthy eating habits among young students.

Ashville Shopping Spree

The initiative, spearheaded by St. Clair County Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Nutrition Educator Cindy Harper, provided each student with a $5 voucher to purchase their favorite produce items. The program was generously supported by Piggly Wiggly’s store manager, Jennifer Thomas, and store owner, Cindy Turner. They donated more than $400 in produce vouchers, demonstrating their commitment to the Ashville community’s health and well-being.

Harper expressed her satisfaction with the event, noting the importance of allowing children to make their own food choices.

“We know kids are more likely to eat fruits and veggies they get to choose,” Harper said, underscoring the practical benefits of the nutrition education provided in the classroom.

The collaboration between Ashville Piggly Wiggly and the local educational community serves not only to emphasize the significance of healthy eating but also to highlight the store’s dedication to fostering a healthier future for its residents.

Body Quest is a partnership between local elementary schools and SNAP-Ed at Auburn University. The program has been successfully influencing the dietary choices of third graders for more than a decade. Participants in the program have shown a preference for vegetables and water over sugary beverages, according to studies.

Family Involvement

Harper said the program’s approach includes multiple tastings of vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, carrots and cauliflower.

“As the classes progress and they see other students try the veggies, most students decide to bravely taste them for themselves and very often find out they like them too,” Harper said.

The success of Body Quest is attributed to the support of classroom teachers and the involvement of parents. Parents are encouraged to take part in the program as recipe testers. The parents work with their children to prepare healthy meals at home using recipes provided by the program.

Cindy Harper at a Live Well Alabama TableJulie Murphree, a parent of participating students, praised the program.

“I am so happy my girls got to participate in Body Quest this year,” Murphree said. “They have learned so much and are excited to apply that learning to keeping themselves healthy and fit.”

The partnership between Ashville Elementary, Piggly Wiggly and SNAP-Ed highlights a successful community effort to educate young minds on the benefits of healthy eating. Through education, collaboration and community support, Ashville is nurturing a generation of health-conscious residents, ready to make informed choices about their nutrition and well-being.

More Information

To learn more about nutrition and physical activity, visit LiveWellAlabama.com. There, you will find valuable resources, practical advice and insights to support your wellness journey.

For those looking to connect with others interested in a healthy lifestyle, consider following Live Well Alabama on social media. Through FacebookTwitter and Instagram, Live Well Alabama offers a space to share experiences, find inspiration and join a community focused on well-being.