Sprouts Program Gives Children a Reason to Play in the Dirt

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JEFFERSON CITY - Hy-Vee teamed up with the Special Learning Center for the national Sprouts Program for the first time this year.  The Sprouts Program gives children a new reason for putting their hands in the dirt.  This program teaches children the importance of fruits and vegetables and how to grow them.

Hy-Vee dietitian Lindsey Koelling said the grocery store was excited to get involved with this program. Koelling will go into the classes and teach the children the importance of fruits and vegetables. "We are going to teach them how to use the vegetables within recipes, so how to prepare the recipes and why they are good for us and how they help out bodies. Also, where they come from on the plant," said Koelling.  Hy-Vee provides all the plants and tools that are necessary in growing vegetable and flower gardens.  

The Special Learning Center provides speech, physical and occupational therapy. The center also does home therapy visits for children under two all throughout central Missouri.  April Drewel started gardening at the Special Learning Center about three years ago in memory of her four-year old son, Alex. 

"The vegetable garden is close to me because that's the only thing that my son, when he was with still us, could eat," Drewel said. "He was protein restricted. So, his main diet consisted of vegetables and fruits so that's where it all started."

The Special Learning Center has one vegetable bed, two raised beds and three other flower beds.  The center looks forward to expanding its gardens.  The kids will start working in the gardens this summer.