Helping kids get smart, inventive with food

March 07, 2013

Supermarkets can get an A+ from parents by supporting chefs at day care to teach youth about food.

The Build-A-Bear Workshop concept that fascinates young girls has elements that might help improve kids’ relationships with food—and earn supermarkets a dose of appreciation from parents for being inventive.

The Lempert Report isn’t suggesting meal assembly centers for kids, which could be complex and turn into operational headaches.  We do propose, however, that food retailers partner (and co-brand) with chefs, day care centers and summer camps to develop at their locations a series of fun teaching events around food.

Chefs already successfully associate with schools.  Even Home Depot whips up youthful enthusiasm for once-a-month workshops at their stores, where kids learn to make napkin holders and other simple projects to take home.  We believe that foods and chefs in more fun environments have a great chance to be popular—and advance the image of supermarkets that help pull these efforts together.

Kids will be at these places anyway.  What we envision won’t force hordes of kids into food stores, cut into family time, or get in the way of retailers satisfying shoppers.   Just as the Build-A-Bear process emotionally vests kids into the teddy bears they create, chef-led events around food could include: 

  • Games where kids learn to match foods with their benefits, such as muscles, energy and feeling happy (before associating them with terms such as protein and carbohydrates).
  • Activities where kids learn about foods, holidays and their cultural meanings.
  • Gaining control over food decisions by creating meal plans for the coming week and even planning parties.