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CLEVELAND -- Vitamix is supporting a new program aimed at improving the health of Cleveland children through good nutrition.

The program is being spearheaded by Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, chosen by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to lead "Healthy Cleveland," a comprehensive initiative to improve the health and fitness of city residents.

Councilman Cimperman worked with Vitamix and several other public and private organizations, including Dave's Supermarkets and The Cleveland Foodbank, to establish a program to provide healthy smoothies to children at 10 City of Cleveland Recreation Centers this summer.

The smoothies are being added to the Recreation Centers' existing free lunch program and will ensure children receive regular servings of fruits and vegetables.

Produce now makes up half of the U.S.D.A. Food Plate which advises consumers on the amount of each food group to eat for good health. The Food Plate replaced the traditional food pyramid last year.

Having smoothies as part of the regular lunch menu helps kids get in the habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, and also gives them a chance to taste how delicious healthy whole foods can be.

In addition to donating blending equipment for the smoothie program, Vitamix is also providing the consulting services of its registered dietician. Vitamix has helped several area schools establish smoothie programs and, as part of that support, has created several nutritionally rich recipes specifically tailored to children's palates.

Vitamix is providing those recipes and will modify them as needed throughout the duration of the program based on seasonally available produce. Vitamix also provided training in how to operate its equipment to the volunteers who prepare the smoothies each day.

In addition to the 10 City of Cleveland Recreation Centers, the summer smoothie program is also being implemented at Merrick House, a neighborhood center in Tremont that provides services to surrounding communities.

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