Meet Our Partners in South Africa | Veggiecation© a Culinary-Nutrition Education Program About Vegetables
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Thursday, 07 May 2015 21:24

Meet Our Partners in South Africa

Food activism is a global movement. From Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in the UK to the non-profit Table for Two in Japan, it’s clear that children’s health and the rise of childhood obesity are concerns that span across continents. This month’s Veggiecator Eductors of the month are a duo from South Africa who first heard of Veggiecation while researching children’s nutrition education programs in March of 2014. Since then, they have started their own pilot program and company! Their across seas expansion of our program and their great success in educating South African children about healthy eating, makes them May’s VeggEds of the Month!

The ladies, Tracy Leibowitz and Nikki Moshal, are from Johannesburg, a fast paced city that is considered an economic hub. Their passion for healthy eating was intensified after the birth of their children. They realized how challenging it can be to feed toddlers and children healthy food when confronted with junk food on a daily basis.

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(Tracy's Daughter, Zoe)

After coming across Veggiecation while doing research on healthy eating, the program immediately resonated with them. They believe that all children should have access to delicious healthy food and that families should be encouraged to change their eating habits and increase their veggie consumption. They felt they shared similar ideals with Veggiecation and immediately took an interest in how the program could assist them in making smarter choices regarding healthy eating for our own families and others.

After taking the training in April 2014, they started officially running their classes the following September under their umbrella company, Super Healthy Heroes.

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(Super Healthy Heroes in action!)

As the program only began running in September, they have been focusing on simple recipes to introduce the children (and their palates) to different foods, textures and methods of cooking. Their program takes the children on an exciting journey from the farm to the table. Nikki and Tracy say that it’s been so rewarding for them to watch the children experience different elements of the program and learn new concepts and ideas. Recently, the duo was interviewed on a radio station where they discussed “Urban Agriculture.” They are affiliated with a woman who is passionate about sustainable vegetable gardening for the underprivileged and are planning a project together. The project will bring underprivileged children and children from affluent areas together, to garden and teach them an assortment of skills through this collaboration.

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(Kids exploring the garden!)

As mothers, they are both very fortunate that they have never struggled with picky eaters. Their kids have enjoyed a variety of food since they were babies, which they attribute to the fact that they try to “package” foods for them in an exciting and age appropriate way. Realizing that it is a misperception that it’s time consuming and difficult to feed one’s kids more healthily, they wanted to show other moms that with the process of teaching children the discipline of healthy eating from a young age, comes an opportunity to teach them further life skills. Tracy and Nikki say they underwent the training in order to better equip themselves to start changing South Africans perceptions and to expand their knowledge and sustain it.

What has been the best thing about your Veggiecation training? and VEN membership?

The Veggiecation training has provided us with great insight into key concepts and procedures to put into place for the effective running of classes. Just one example is the importance of teaching the kids first and foremost the importance of self hygiene, how to maintain a safe and clean environment and the effective washing of the produce to be used. Our membership allow us to keep up to date with healthy news, recipes and to keep us in tune with the world of healthy eating and its implementation for kids. It is great to have an affiliation with such an amazing company and to be able to support one another where necessary.

What's your favorite anecdote about an especially cute or picky child?

We were excited to hear that one of our 4 year olds went to the fridge one day on her own accord and took out a handful of raw carrots. As the mom had never seen this before she asked her what she was doing to which she replied: “ I tried carrots in class the other day and they are actually really sweet and delicious”. She now eats them on a regular basis.

Another girl said in class the other day: ”I eat broccoli because I know it’s good for my body, so its just something I know I need to do”. These are just two examples of how we are normalizing a healthy lifestyle for these kids.

What are your favorite recipes to use?

Some of our favorite recipes include the Spinana Pancakes, Kidney Bean Burgers, Sweet and snappy salad, Magenta dip and Basil Rice Noodles.  The Spinana Pancakes are really delicious and easy to make and introduce spinach in a discreet and excellent way while the Magenta dip is a great recipe for introducing two extremely healthy veggies as kids are often reluctant to eat beets and beans. We have our own vegetable and herb garden and the kids love picking fresh basil to use in the Basil Rice Noodles. 

The Veggiecation recipes are delicious as well as educational and the recipes and activities lend themselves to teaching the kids an array of skills. 

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