Healthy snacks and meals are showing up at the Lexington Legends concession stands and again this summer at some Lexington public pools.
The effort to get swimmers and baseball fans to eat healthier is part of the Better Bites program created by the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition.
Introducing more healthful snacks at the park had been a topic of discussion for several years, said Seth Poteat, general manager with the Legends minor league ball club.
While healthier options, such as salads, have been offered in some parts of the park, Poteat said, "we kind of struggled to find something that would work in the concession stand."
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Enter Adam Zann, who works with food service provider ARAMARK. He found an option with the Better Bites.
Now, on Kids Eat Free Mondays, the meal is a crust-less sandwich, fruit and water. This Better Bites combo, which is available for sale on other nights too, replaces a hotdog, chips and a soft drink as the free meal.
Anita Courtney, chairperson of the Tween Nutrition Coalition, couldn't be happier. Making healthy choices more available makes them more attractive to kids, she said. And, it makes other places that serve food to kids consider increasing the nutritional value of what they offer.
"Every step that we takes makes it easier for the next person," she said.
This Friday, the coalition, in conjunction with the Good Foods Coop, is offering Veggin' Out at the Pool dinner. Featuring a Kentucky Proud menu, the dinner includes burgers, brats, veggie burgers, side dishes, and dessert.
"Veggin' Out at the Pool is summer at its best — swimming and a delicious, locally grown dinner at an affordable price," Courtney said.
Last year, Lexington Parks and Recreation and the coalition created a Better Bites Menu at Southland and Woodland pools. This year, Courtney said, the healthier menu is being offered at the pools at Castlewood and Shillito also.
In addition to normal pool fare, the menu gives swimmers the option to buy grapes, apples, bananas, strawberries, yogurt, and chicken salad on whole wheat bread at the concession stands.
"Because pool concession stands are like kids' refrigerators and pantries in the summer, stocking them with healthy food can affect their eating habits. Given that Kentucky has the third highest rate of childhood obesity in the country, it's important that we make healthy food the norm for our kids everywhere possible," said Courtney.