Health on Wheels: Local Mom Changes After-School Snack Options for Students
Julie Vitek is a mom with bright red wheels. Late last year Vitek started her own fresh fruit stand at the Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center that would serve as a place where kids could grab a healthy and free after-school snack.
The market, dubbed Coyote Market after the school’s mascot, is open every third week of the month and located in the courtyard at Alice Carlson. Coyote Market offers numerous fruit options that include the usual: apples, bananas, pears and oranges, with the addition of one interesting fruit option of Vitek’s choice.
“I’ll add something interesting each month,” Vitek said. “I’ve brought kiwis, Spanish plums, strawberries, grapes – and the kids love it because it’s something new.”
Vitek, an instructor at Arts Fifth Avenue and Urban Yoga, says she’s always been a healthy eater and fitness lover. She developed the idea of starting a fruit stand after becoming the healthy lifestyles chair on the PTA board at Alice Carlson, where her twins are second-graders. She immediately knew she was going to need support and donations. Grocers, the PTA board and, most importantly, other parents became the main sources of fruit.
Vitek built the market with the help of her brother, constructing the seven-foot wooden stand and attaching a cherry-red wagon underneath so it would be easily portable. She got crafty while making the stand’s sign by cutting out wooden fruit and topping it off with a colorful flower border.
Vitek was pleasantly surprised by what happened next.
“I was blown away by everyone’s reactions,” Vitek said. “The first day it was open and every day since, there’s been a huge line around the corner. We just can’t believe how excited the kids get over it.”
Future plans for Coyote Market include getting a steady flow of donations from local grocery stores.
“I would just love to see it [the market] grow – and it is,” Vitek said. “One of my goals is to have a partnership with a grocery store so we can have an ongoing donation.”
Vitek also hopes the kids will eventually help with the stand one day.
“There are so many kids that have no snacks, have only unhealthy snacks or have never even had healthy snacks introduced into their lives,” Vitek said. “We wanted the kids to be introduced to a healthy option.”