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      Food detectives for a day

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - BI-LO has launched a new and innovative free field trip initiative chain-wide called the BI-LO Food Detectives Program, which is focused on helping children make healthy eating choices.

      Wide-eyed students from Columbia's Lewis Greenville Elementary School spent tuesday morning taking part in the program.

      Throughout the experience, children were able to participate in engaging activities that helped them learn about the power of produce, the principles of the USDA's MyPlate initiative, understanding shelf and nutrition labeling and how whole grains, vitamins and minerals benefit the body.

      "Kids seem to have a really good time with it," said Monica Amburn, a dietician at the Bi-Lo on North Main Street in Columbia.

      Amburn came up with the idea of an interactive field trip so kids can learn about healthy foods. The hands-on field trip experience works to develop and improve childrens skills in healthy living, nutrition and exercise.

      The kids get magnifying glasses and badges to encourage them to inspect food labels.

      "They were holding the magnify glasses up to their eyes and going up to all of the tags and looking for different clues. Thats exactly what we want them to do in real life, too," said Amburn.

      The program allows students to taste a variety of fruits and vegetables. After tasting different foods, they mark a report card showing what they liked or didn't like.

      The students take the report card home to a parent, and if they bring it back to the store, they get a discount on the food they tried.

      According to Amburn, "Parents and adults are really the example for kids. The younger we can impact the kids the better because were seeing obesity and diabetes increase at an alarming rate in our country, and its starting younger."

      The fun initiative is appropriate for children in the elementary grades. It aligns with local learning standards and is offered free to all elementary schools, as well as to scout groups, homeschoolers, daycares and other community organizations.

      These students are food detectives for the day, but dieticians like Amburn hope they will go on to make healthy food coices for life.