United Way, Day Nursery make eating healthy fun

Getting kids to reach for leafy greens instead of chips and chocolate is no easy task, but a garden at the Day Nursery Lilly Center might just help.

A $100,000 grant from United Way funded the garden. It’s designed for little fingers and toes to learn about healthy food as it grows.

“Once they see it grow and see it from seed and really get to understand it they get very fascinated about it. and then they want to try it,” said Ann Murtlow, CEO of United Way of Central Indiana.

The garden is one example of how the United Way has partnered with JUMP IN for healthy kids. JUMP IN is a collective initiative by community leaders in Central Indiana to reduce childhood obesity.

“Our bodies are a vehicle, and in that vehicle you have to have the right stuff in it for it to work,” said Marsha Hearn Lindsey, COO of Day Nursery.

She said the right stuff, or good nutrition, is vital fuel for her students. Not only does it help their bodies grow, it’s been proven to improve learning and concentration.

Day Nursery President Ted Maple said this boost has been invaluable for their students.

“Children need to have really hands on experiential approach to what they’re learning about,” said Ted Maple. “And the great thing about nutrition and food is that they can also put it in their bodies.”

Maple said across it’s locations, Day Nursery, serves up 40, 000 healthy snacks and meals monthly.

Day Nursery hopes their work has a ripple effect on the entire community for generations to come.

“We know kids are like sponges,” said Murtlow. “So they can learn about vegetables, they can taste them prepared different ways they can get excited about that and those are great habits that they’ll take with them into adulthood as well.”

And for parents, they can track what their child is eating and learning, with the help of the teachers and life cubby smartphone app.

Visit www.uwci.org/give for more information.

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