Oryana’s FAN Program for Kids

Oryana Natural Foods Market in Traverse City is teaching kids to be “FANS of good food.” The FAN (Food and Nutrition) Program is composed of ten interactive classes taught by a certified teacher and designed for middle and high school students. Classes are free and open to all schools in Grand Traverse County and surrounding areas.

“Our goal is to help kids learn about healthy eating,” says Sandi McArthur, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Oryana.
“These are interactive lessons geared at helping kids make healthier food choices and include ideas such as “smart snacking” and  “how to read and understand nutritional and ingredient labels.”

Bringing these fun and educational classes directly into the classroom is educator Dave Gibbs, a certified teacher with a Master’s Degree. Teachers have the option of choosing any of the classes from the program and have the option for Dave to return to do multiple classes if they desire.

A lot of teachers are interested in this opportunity Sandi says, “The problem is that teachers don’t have much time and so sometimes it’s hard to fit it all in both what they need to accomplish in a day and fit in an outside class.”

“Teachers can look at our class offerings and work with Dave to find those that might fit with the lesson plans and curricula they are teaching,” she says. “What we try to do is look at the classes we are offering and then we look at the curriculum and we suggest a class that would fit. We feel our classes are an important part of a child’s education and we really try to help to help the teachers make this possible.”

Perhaps it’s this extra step that has led to such a high success rate. Now in its third year, Dave can be seen at area schools up to three days a week and is usually booked, sometimes going to multiple schools in one day.

“Last year we reached about 3,000 children in 19 different schools and many teachers ask us back for more than one lesson,” Sandi says. “We have gotten very positive feedback and the teachers and the kids are really excited about our program. Our hope is that when kids learn about healthier eating they will make better choices for themselves now and on into the future.”

“The classes are interactive and there is always a food component such as a snack or trying a new food and in some classes kids get to actually make a recipe that they learned about,” she adds.

As part of the FAN program, Oryana encourages kids to apply the lessons they have learned in real life scenarios.free fruit

“While shopping with their parents, kids can have a piece of fruit for free. It’s a great way to keep kids occupied especially if they’re hungry and reinforces the idea that fruits are a good snack and helps instill the idea that when given a choice they can have a delicious snack in a piece of fruit. Saturday demo’s are geared towards kids and getting them to try new foods. This is just another way Oryana uses food to educate about healthier eating.”

Oryana also provides lots of opportunities for adults to learn more about healthier eating through food demo’s, free in-store tours that focus on “Eating Healthy for Life” and “Healthy Eating on a Budget,” as well as offering shoppers lots of opportunities to sample products throughout the store.

“Oryana is mission driven to provide high quality food that is grown sustainably as well as educate our community on the relationship between food and health. We are also committed to giving back to our community and our FAN program as well as our tours are two of the ways we do that.”

You can find more information about the FAN program, in-store tours, classes and events by going to the Oryana website or contacting Sandi McArthur at 231.947.0191 or send her an email sandi@oryana.coop.


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