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COLUMBIA - Clovers Natural Market specializes in organic and local food and has for 47 years. Now it has joined in with two local preschools to share those values as part of the Healthy Caterpillar Initiative. 

Patty Clover, co-owner of Clovers, told KOMU 8 News on Sunday that the program is really important for the physical health of the preschoolers, but also their mental health.

The program takes place at Columbia Community Montessori (CCM) located on King Avenue and Grant Montessori Preschool which is located in the basement of Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School on East Broadway. 

Clovers accepts donations for the program at the Chapel Plaza Court location as well as the East Broadway location. 100 percent of the money provides wholesome, nutritious food for the two preschools. Clovers also donates food each week to the schools.

Another source of the food comes from Cafe Berlin. Employees from the cafe frequently put together meals for the program. Phil Gresham, a cashier at Clovers and former Cafe Berlin employee said the cafe has played a huge role in the initiative. "They (Cafe Berlin employees) prepare food and I'm envious that I don't get to eat it," Greshman said.

20 kids utilize the program at CCM and 10 at Grant Montessori Preschool. The food is taken to the schools and the kids not only get to enjoy the food but also help serve it. Clover said it gives the children a sense of what healthy food looks and tastes like. "A lot of these kids would never see this kind of food if it weren't for this program," she said. 

As a Clovers employee, Greshman also is a crucial part of getting the word out about the program. He said he explains what it's all about to customers and the involvement has been positive. "Even the slightest amount helps. I'll suggest that customers just round up their total to the nearest dollar, even just 5 cents. It all adds up," Greshman said. 

Clover said she hopes the program will continue to grow and duplicate.

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