On Saturday, June 16th, I was ready. I set up a few tables, took out our Creating Healthy Places literature, had a stack of survey questions ready for the Healthy Food Task Force, plus a beautiful bushel of Empire apples from Migliorelli Farm to distribute. It was Midtown Make a Difference Day, an event tagged as "Building a Strong Community, Neighbor-to-Neighbor."
Midtown Make A Difference Day is really an old-fashioned block party with more community-building components. It's hosted each year by the Everette Hodge Community Center on Franklin Street in Midtown Kingston. Meg Weiss of Kingston Cares, a program of Family of Woodstock, and the community center staff and partners, are an amazing crew who offer after school and other diverse programing at this community center. Their motto is "Bringing Wisdom and Creativity to our Community."
I thought this event would be good place to talk to residents about shoping and preparing meals in Midtown Kingston. I shared a shady area in the block with two Cornell Cooperative Extension collegues. Kristen Wilson of Healthy Kingston for Kids was on one side and brought about 20 Hula Hoops, as well as two huge water coolers filled with unsweetened beverages. On my other side was Deanna Young, a powerhouse nutrition educator who brought her veggie craft activities for the younger children.
I got the surveys and a general sense of the farmer's market. But I also gleaned some other information. This is what I learned during the course of a very hot day in Midtown Kingston:
Most people are very gracious.They took time from festivities to anwer my survey questions about the Midtown Kingston Farmers’ Market.
Kids like apples, especially the little ones when you say "want to make an apple flower?" and help them core and slice the apple.
When kids are very thirsty, they want to quench their thirst with something familiar.
Kristen, who left me with her two huge coolers of unsweeted tea and lemonade, suggested we say this is a "taste test." I learned that when you ask kids which drink they like more, it will make them suspicious. In fact, two kids took a swig, looked at me incredulously, turned to the side and spit out the drink. I think the reasoning is that if it's fruity looking, then it should be sweet.
A better taste test would be to serve iced water, and the kids could add a bit of lemon, lime or orange slices.
Unsweetened beverages are an acquired taste. You have to cut the sugar content very slowly over a long period of time.
If you are my age you need a good quality, weighted hula hoop to suceed in this activity. Otherwise it's pretty pathetic sight to watch my lame attemps to look cool.