I was an incredibly picky eater as a kid: Despite my mom’s best efforts, I seemed determined to make Ritz crackers and mozzarella cheese the cornerstone of my diet. Fortunately, I did eventually grow out of the picky eater phase and started to eat food that wasn’t only beige and yellow. Picky eaters, however, and unhealthy eating habits are all too common with kids.
While many bad habits start when we’re young, the flips side is that good habits can start when we’re young as well. And one of the best habits to start with is eating healthy foods. Sure, eating healthfully can be challenging, but to help create those good habits and spread a positive message in an educational and fun way is one of our own St. Paul residents Ed Jenkins.
Ed Jenkins is creator of the show Lalo’s Lunchbox. Lalo’s Lunchbox is a children’s video series that focuses on teaching healthy eating habits as well as learning how to be a caring person. Jenkins plays the star character Lalo, your neighborhood buddy who owns a local sandwich shop and who also happens to have a magical lunchbox that produces boundless amounts of food. Other vibrant characters also join in on the fun throughout the series like Lalo’s helpful and spirited assistant Daisy.
The show is reminiscent of a mix between Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood with its bright, colorful set and costumes along with messages of kindness. Jenkins created the series because he believes, “it is desperately important in our culture to help children learn how to have healthy bodies AND it’s equally important to help them learn how to be loving and kind.”
The episodes are short bite-sized videos under 3 minutes long to help hold the short attention span of kids. Each episode focuses on cooking and discovering new recipes centered around a new fruit or vegetable. For instance, one episode focuses on making peanut butter banana wraps while another episode follows the process of making strawberry jam while also teaching patience. Certainly inspired by Mr. Rogers, Jenkins also sprinkles throughout the episodes teaching moments and lessons that promote good deeds, empathy, resourcefulness, sharing, and other social skills. As the writer, producer, and star of Lalo’s Lunchbox, Jenkins hopes to encourage kids to look at food in a fun way and have good experiences surrounding food to carry with them as they get older.
You can explore these videos with your kids on Lalo’s Lunchbox’s YouTube channel and watch them when you’re shopping for groceries or cooking dinner to help reinforce creating those healthy eating habits. Or you can experience Lalo and his magic lunchbox in person with live performances throughout the summer. The live shows are filled with fun and entertainment as you watch the lunchbox magically come to life spewing out all sorts of gadgets and food. Not only will the kids love it but you’ll enjoy the creativity and talent that goes into each performance.
Lalo’s Lunchbox live performances are always completely free. Check out the schedule below to find the perfect day to take the kids and your nieces and nephews for an inspiring, educational, and fun afternoon.
Roseville Public Library: Tuesday, July 24th @ 10:30am
Shoreview Public Library: Monday, July 30th @ 10:30am
Eagan Market Fest: Wednesday, August 15th @ 5:30pm and 7:00pm
White Bear Lake Public Library: Saturday, August 18th @ 10:30am