We sat down with Hether Frayer, owner of Kaleamazoo Chips and best known as the Fresh Food Fairy, to learn more about her innovative healthful eating program for youth, Fresh Food Fairy Nutrition Education.
VegOut Kalamazoo: Tell us a little about yourself.
Hether: I grew up in metro Detroit. I’m Chaldean, a group of Eastern rite Catholics from Iraq. I grew up eating delicious, beautiful dishes. One of my favorites was lemony dolma. There were always lots of fresh fruits and vegetables around. I left Detroit to attend WMU. I stayed in Kalamazoo, started a family, and my kids began to attend Northglade Elementary.
VegOut Kalamazoo: How did you come to create your character Fresh Food Fairy?
Hether: As I was advocating for better food in the schools, I would see kids throwing away lots of good vegetables. I asked myself how I could encourage them to eat these instead of throwing them away. It wasn’t that they didn’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. They just weren’t eating them. That was an eye-opener. I attended a Change Makers workshop. One of the assignments was to “Draw your passion!” I drew the Fresh Food Fairy. I received $250 for attending the workshop to be used toward beginning my business. I used the money to buy a costume, my mask and wings. I tried my project first at Northglade. I brought fruits and vegetables for the kids. I called my effort Fresh Food is Fun!! It’s geared toward children from three years old through sixth grade.
VegOut Kalamazoo: How does your program work?
Hether: I present at elementary schools, libraries, and just wherever someone will have me. I do wellness fairs. Everybody gets a bag of vegetables. I try to bring things that include lots of color and that are as local as possible. We do silly things with them. We have fun with the food. We make green bean mustaches, hold a carrot to the light to see what we can see, make veggie faces using different vegetables for the eyes, nose, and mouth. I encourage kids to play with their food. I tell them, too, that taste buds can learn to like veggies. They just need practice. I have a bike blender. I bring local fruits and have an option for dairy-free slushies. People ride the bike to create the energy to make their drinks. It’s a lot of fun!
VegOut Kalamazoo: Is there any way VegOut readers could help?
Hether: Parents can ask their schools to have me in to speak. They can make a donation to their child’s school with the stipulation that it be used for Fresh Food Fairy Nutrition Education. There are also opportunities to help make the vegetable bags that are used in the programs.
VegOut Kalamazoo: What do you see for the future of Fresh Food Fairy Nutrition Education?
Hether: I’d like to have more Fresh Food Fairies. I’d like to develop more programming, to not only grow more within this area but also to spread to other areas as well.