Wellness Fair File Photo

Kara Guenther, an employee with Sodexo, serves Yaseena Khasilova one of a variety of sauces to go with her free vegetables at the Albany County School District's Wellness Fair on Wednesday at the Laramie High School commons. The fair featured eight vendors, including Acre, a University of Wyoming student gardening group who gave fair attendees free basil plants. Other vendors included UW students teaching families about the health benefits of vegetables, information about ACSD's Backpack program and physical therapy tips from the Spine and Injury Clinic of Laramie.

Albany County families can explore different health and wellness options within the community tonight at the free Health and Wellness Fair hosted by Albany County School District No. 1 and Sodexo.

Starting at 4 p.m. in the Laramie High School commons, families can visit interactive booths from various companies, nonprofits and organizations around the community.

Booths will inform families about topics like nutrition, physical fitness, mental health, gardening and dental and vision care.

Vendors attending this year include Grand Avenue Dentistry, Smile Doctors, Laramie Vision Clinic, Peak Wellness, Spine & Injury Clinic of Laramie, Kids Nutrition, Crossfit Kids, LEAP and Laramie Conservation.

The school district already incorporates fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods into school lunches, said ACSD No. 1 Food Services Manager Jill Dunn, but the fair is a way to go beyond meals at school.

“We reach out to get them more options for what families can do, what’s available for them in the community and the support that they can get from those community vendors,” Dunn said. “This just kind of teaches kids they don’t have to eat fast food, they don’t have to eat junk food, they can eat healthily and it still tastes good.”

The fair’s second year, the event is broadened this year to include the increased vendor interest across the wide spectrum of both health and wellness. Including both, Food Services administrative assistant Jonie Markle said, gives “people an avenue or a way to connect with someone that maybe they just never thought about.”

“There are some people out there that may not necessarily know who to contact or the importance of dental care or what orthodontic care can do for you,” Markle said. “We just wanted to have various vendors there that could talk to people interested in what they provide.”

In addition to vendors, the event will have an information table for the school district’s backpack program, which gives out free food to students each weekend who might otherwise go hungry.

“That is such a huge thing, we’re already up in numbers from last year,” Markle said.

Fair attendees won’t go home hungry, University of Wyoming chef Mathew Branson will be preparing a plant-based dish for fair attendees to try, and there will also be a rainbow of vegetables available along with various sauces, part of the Taste 4 food program currently in place at the high school. 

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