Children enjoying lunch at Zion UCC's summer lunch program on Wednesday were treated to a short lesson on healthy eating.

Registered dietitian Denise Frey from Blue Mountain Health System spent time quizzing students on healthy habits, including foods and exercise, and shared samples of kale with the children.

"What are some of the things that keep us healthy?" she asked one group, starting a conversation about good eating habits, exercise, and getting enough sleep.

"I enjoy working with the kids and interacting," said Frey. "This is an important message to share with the community."

Many of the topics they discussed eating lots of fruits and vegetables of all colors, and choosing whole grains are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "MyPlate" program, which visually illustrates the five food groups that make up a healthy meal.

Each student received a place mat reinforcing the message that each meal should include a plate filled halfway with fruits and vegetables, and one quarter plate each of starches and protein. A side of dairy is also included on the MyPlate.

Frey also shared kale with those in attendance, freshly picked from her garden.

"I was very pleased," said Frey. "We had a few of the kids who didn't like it, but many tried it and that's what counts."

She noted that kale is a great example of a healthy food, because it is low in calories and rich in nutrients and can be prepared a variety of ways or even eaten raw, which gives picky eaters lots of different ways to try the vegetable.

Zion offers a free student lunch program during the summer months to all students in the Lehighton Area School District. The program is offered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Meals are offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays until students return to school.

For more information on the MyPlate program, go to www.choosemyplate.gov [2].