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Grant Awardee Spotlight: Purple Asparagus

    CHIditarod has again chosen to sponsor Purple Asparagus in our 2015 Grant Cycle. In Chicago’s low-income communities obesity rates for children may be as high as 70%. The goal of Purple Asparagus is simple: change the way children eat. Purple Asparagus has been working over the past decade to address nutritional issues children face, and developed Delicious Nutritious Adventures (DNA), an in-classroom, hands-on nutrition education and whole food experience that runs on a monthly basis for the entire school year.

    This year’s $5,000 grant will enable Purple Asparagus to bring their programming to two more Chicago schools. DNA educates children in an exciting and engaging way about foods that are good for their bodies and the planet. Students learn where their food comes from, how it benefits their bodies, and how to make simple and healthy meals and snacks at home.

    Copy of Purple Asparagus - Photo 2One of the most mind-opening parts of the program is when students enter the “No Yuck Zone”, where they aren’t allowed to use words like “yuck” or “disgusting”, and where they take “Polite Bites” of four different foods from the month’s lesson plan. In this tasting part of the program Purple Asparagus instructors lead the students in a group discussion about their thoughts on each food item as they taste it. It’s during this portion of the program where students learn that they don’t have to like everything they try, but, if they don’t try things they won’t know what they do and don’t like.

    The University of Chicago’s Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education (CEMSE) found that the programming increases students’ interest in learning about new foods and making healthy food choices. This impacted children ate more fruits (57%) and vegetables (44%) after participating in the program and that 66% of parents had an increased awareness about practicing healthy eating habits.

    More information at