Milan Hy-Vee implements 'Sprouts - Get Out and Grow' gardening program

Posted Online: June 28, 2012, 2:20 pm
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Press release submitted by Hy-Vee

Hy-Vee implements a new program to plant the seeds for healthy habits in young children

The "Sprouts – Get Out and Grow" kids' garden and cooking program will provide a seed-to-table experience for young children to foster a love of vegetables.

MILAN, IL – In conjunction with RidgewoodElementary School, the Hy-Vee grocery store in Milan is implementing an exciting garden-based program called, "Sprouts – Get Out and Grow."

Nina Struss, registered dietitian at the Milan Hy-Vee, will be implementing this new program – the first supermarket-based one of its kind in the Quad Cities – to cultivate healthier food choices in children. The program's goal is to increase children's preferences for vegetables through the experience of helping to grow, prepare and taste featured vegetables in the garden located onsite at the Milan Hy-Vee store.

"In the few classes we have already had, I have seen so much excitement and curiosity in these children," said Struss, who is also a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "The children take great pride in these vegetables they have planted and continue to care for on a weekly basis. Most of all, they thoroughly enjoy tasting new vegetables and making recipes and memories to share with their families."

Classes will take place in the garden-style classroom weekly throughout the summer. The classes are offered at no cost to the children during this initial pilot period, Struss said. "Our goal is to create a sustainable gardening program where we can educate our community on the benefits of gardening and eating vegetables," she said. "While we are only working with one small group of children this year, we hope to expand the program in more ways than one in the years to come."

Research has shown that teaching children lifelong healthy eating habits when they are young leads to lower rates of childhood obesity. This corresponds with the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which point to an "urgent need to focus on children." Milan Hy-Vee has also partnered with the University of Illinois Extension office to provide further education on horticulture to the Sprouts students.

From June 6 through August 22, children will visit the garden weekly to learn more about vegetables and their importance in maintaining good health. They will explore vegetables using all their senses and assist in the preparation of healthy recipes using produce from the garden. On August 25, Milan Hy-Vee will host a Sprouts Harvesting Party in which all Sprouts participants and their families will be invited to the garden to harvest the remaining vegetables and herbs as well as participate in many fun activities.

Nina Struss, RD, LDN, works at the Milan Hy-Vee. Struss received a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL. She completed a 10 month dietetic internship at Tri-County Health Department in Greenwood Village, CO, where she also worked as public health dietitian for two years. Struss is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Iowa and Illinois Dietetic Associations and the Mississippi Valley Dietetic Association.

Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating 235 retail stores in eight Midwestern states. In 2011 the company recorded total sales of $7.3 billion, ranking it among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States. Hy-Vee's 62,000 employee-owners carry out the company's mission of making lives easier, healthier and happier. For more information, visit the website at


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