Healthy living will continue in Marquette County schools, preschools and day cares this year all thanks to a 100,000 grant from The Michigan Health Endowment Fund.
Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA), and The Superior Health Foundation and the Community Foundation will be using the money to ensure the continuation of the PE-Nut Expansion Project (P.E.P).
The program is targeted at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity of students in nine local elementary school and Early Childhood Programs in Marquette and Alger Counties.
As part of an in classroom component of the program a health educator visits the schools several times a year to ensure simple consistent messaging to motivate students. Students also get the chance to build their own healthy meals in those classroom settings.
The foundation's CEO, Gail Anthony, is confident the lessons will provide a unique spin on health education.
"They introduce them in a fun way, hands-on activities, it is increasing the use of healthy foods in the home," said Anthony. "It's a fun activity and it's a good outcome for the families."
A new feature of P.E.P. is the addition of a new target audience of four-year-olds and their parents, along with an increased role for area grocers and produce departments. They are calling it the “Healthy Heroes” component of the grant. Pre-schools will start distributing punch cards that entitles each child to one free fresh fruit or vegetable per month for six months at participating grocers.
Families of the pre-schoolers will have access to a P.E.P. web page that links the fruit or vegetable of the month with recipes, resources and fitness/activity ideas. Cards will be punched for all 6 months and turned in for one of five “Healthy Heroes” grocery store gift certificates in the amount of $100.00.
Five major grocers have committed to partnering with MARESA. Participating grocers include Tadych’s Econofoods, Marquette, Super One, Negaunee, Jubilee Foods, Ishpeming, Larry’s Foods, Gwinn and Family Fare Supermarket, in Munising.