Home Biz Scoop Mesa-based My Max Pack helps kids develop healthy eating habits

Mesa-based My Max Pack helps kids develop healthy eating habits

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Three snax-makers creating a nutritious fruit medley of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries for a healthy snack. (Lori Osiecki/Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

We see you eyeing that bag of chips or candy bar—but what if you decided to eat a healthier option like grapes or carrots? Shifting to a healthy mindset isn’t easy, it takes effort to plan to snack smart and choose healthier foods, but thanks to My Max Pack, it’s a little easier.

Lazar’s daughters with one of their Max Packs purchased by their grandmother in their Chicago home in June 2016. (Scott Lazar/Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

Healthy habits start early—from choosing fruit instead of chips, exercising, and letting the occasional sweet tooth have its way. Mesa-based My Max Pack and the character, Max On Snax, helps kids make healthy snacks through instructional videos and Max Packs that include recipes and activities

Mesa founder and owner Lori Osiecki started developing the Max On Snax character before 2008, and worked with SEED SPOT in 2015 to create four Max Packs to sell. She has since expanded to sell eight packs with various themes online.

“I started to do research on kids and snacking and I came upon a pediatric journal that was sort of alarming about kids and their eating habits, so it was a pivot in my life and I decided to see what I could do creatively to sort of address kids’ eating habits,” Osiecki said.

Her background working in the creative field for over 25 years gave Osiecki the ability to conceive a character to go along with her idea: Max On Snax, a little boy who helps guide children in his instructional videos online about food preparation. MyMaxPack.com features a tab, Max’s Show-less than two-minute informational videos that ask viewers “Are you Hungry?” at the beginning about topics like fruits, vegetables and how to prepare a sandwich.

The Max Packs are “Geared for this under 5 group, it’s really targeted to preschool children because in my mind you have to get them before they have their first big goal and make them ambassadors of their own healthy choices,” said Osiecki. “Kids are pretty amazing…they are sponges, and when you empower them to do something, they step up to the challenge.”

In addition to the shows and max packs, Max On Snax also has a surgeon general recommended iPhone app called Max’s Plate. Through the app, kids can learn about the five food groups through the game and learn how to track their daily servings.

“We found through our research, Max was the first brand ever to be presented by HealthyKids.org, he was in their first digital magazine because of Max’s mission,” Osiecki said. “I built all this content and awareness of Max with one thing in mind, trying to give parents the tools they need and kids an ally, somebody they could relate to that would help to encourage them to make healthier choices.”

People can purchase what’s called Monthly Max, an eight-month subscription to have packs delivered or can choose individual packs from the Snax Maker—the starter pack that includes an apron, a chef’s hat and a sandwich shaper, to the Garden or Farm Fun Packs filled with themed activities. Each pack comes with a recipe, various activities, a kitchen item such as a sandwich shaper, and “Snax Patches,” which are embroidered patches of fruits and vegetables that act as a reward system for completing that month’s recipe and activities. The patches can be ironed onto the kids’ aprons with the help of a grown-up.

The packs also “come with a note to a parent, which Max calls big people,” Osiecki said. “In the animation, when I wrote the storylines for Max, I really wanted him to not be preachy…so the only two directives that Max gives to kids in his animation is “Make sure you have the OK from one of those big people,” and “don’t forget to wash your hands,” Osiecki said she wrote it that way because it’s not always the parents who are watching and taking care of the kids.

In fact, Osiecki said through research, she found that mostly grandmas purchase the packs for their grandchildren.

Illinois resident Scott Lazar, whose two daughters have completed activities after the monthly Max Packs were purchased for them by their grandmother, said his daughters love Max’s “Counting Salad” episode. The show instructs the ingredients needed to make a salad and mixing it together. Both of the girls have received patches for their aprons, which Lazar said is a great idea as it “provides the kids with a sense of recognition and accomplishment.”

Through the activities, recipes and videos, My Max Pack and Max On Snax want to help kids develop healthy eating habits, which Lazar said his kids have.

“Yes, the kids now scold me if I reach for something sweet, instead of grabbing a piece of fruit,” Lazar said. “My kids are much more interested in participating in food prep in the kitchen,” he said after they completed activities in the Max Packs.

Lazar said he would recommend the Max Packs to other families to purchase for their kids because the activities are fun. “The fact that they learn healthier habits for life, is simply a bonus!”

One of the biggest rewards for Osiecki are when she has received feedback from parents who tell her that their child only wants to eat what Max eats or send her photographs of the child engaging in the kitchen and that they are eating better.

“Long-term I really think Max has a much bigger place in this world, my goal for Max would be to eventually have a food product that would become that no-brainer brand for parents,” Osiecki said. “My big dream for Max would be that Max someday is actually guiding more than just with activities and games and recipes, he’s actually helping moms navigate a grocery store.”

To learn more about My Max Pack, watch Max On Snax shows or to purchase a healthy pack, visit: MyMaxPack.com.

– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.com.

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