By Ann Custer
This past summer, I volunteered in the food preparation for Camp4Real. The camp is located at different elementary schools in Albemarle County in Virginia. For a week, children in the area participate in fun activities to get their heart rates up and their minds engaged. They take a snack break midmorning where they are served fresh, organic, and vegan food to fuel their bodies.
The menu varies from week to week based on accessibility, but the thought and preparation that goes into it is always the same. An example of a typical week would be as follows. On Monday, campers would make their own cereal. We had shredded wheat, puffed rice, oats, granola, shredded coconut, flax and chia seeds, and other cereal toppings. Milk options included coconut, almond, or rice for those with nut allergies. The camp is very good about not cross contaminating the food and adapting to children’s needs. The kids with allergies always go first. The next day would be smoothies where the children would fill a bowl of their choice of pineapple, berries, bananas, spinach, seeds, and oats. We would blend it for them with the same options of milk and pour it in a cup for them. Wednesday consists of banana splits. We had homemade cashew cream, nut butters, seeds, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and oats. The children loved the cashew cream! It was so cool to see kids enjoying healthy food. The next day was always catered by a local kabob company. They offered the kids grilled veggie kabobs as well as hummus and pita chips. The final day of camp was also always standard: fruit and veggie art day! We had hummus, nut butters, guacamole and salsa to act as the glue. We put out celery, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, berries, bananas, and of course toothpicks to put it all together! The kids made their creations and then ate them, but not before someone got a picture.
A few other days we switched out were apple sandwiches and whole wheat wraps which both offered nut butters, chocolate chips, seeds, and fresh fruit as toppings. One goal of this camp is to get kids to try new foods and to educate them on the benefits of eating healthy. Before the kids would come up, we would talk about the benefits of the food they were eating on a basic level. Most kids would then go and tell their parents about the food starting a chain reaction of healthy eating habits and education. Children are the investment we should make when we talk about implementing healthy changes to better our population. Camp4Real successfully does this through their program of fun physical activity and delicious vegan food.
For more information see: http://camp4real.com/brochures-2/