Alicia McLeod, a nutritional health coach at Natural Grocers, leads a series of monthly seminars at the store. The next one on Feb. 11 will focus on cardiovascular health.

Photo by Scott Franz

Alicia McLeod, a nutritional health coach at Natural Grocers, leads a series of monthly seminars at the store. The next one on Feb. 11 will focus on cardiovascular health.

Natural Grocers expands reach in community with cooking lessons, nutrition seminars

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— On the wall of downtown Steamboat Springs' Natural Grocers is a giant paper strawberry that means a lot to Alicia McLeod.

Sure, most will never notice it posted on a corner wall of the store that has many other distractions on the shelves.

But the strawberry, given as a “thank you” card by a class of kindergarten students who recently went on a scavenger hunt in the store, is an example of how this grocery store has become more than just a grocery store.

“Nonprofits can meet here for free. We have cooking demonstrations and a monthly lesson,” McLeod, a nutritional health coach said Friday in the community room of the store on Lincoln Avenue. “It's part of our mission.”

Walk into the store in the afternoon, and it isn't uncommon to find someone snacking in the community room while doing business on a laptop.

And there are other thank you cards posted on the walls from groups like the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs that have hosted Natural Grocers staff for lessons on leading healthier lifestyles.

Since it opened just more than a year ago, Natural Grocers also has become a place for some community members to lead their own lessons.

Local kindergarten teacher Grady Turner has used the kitchen at the store to lead regular healthy eating and cooking classes for children.

“The classes are a lot of fun because they're relatively small scale, so there's a lot of interaction,” McLeod said.

McLeod's next nutrition seminar Feb. 11 will focus on cardiovascular health.

She has several more planned through June that will tackle suck topics as how to promote bone health and choosing foods that promote strength.

McLeod, who helps customers navigate more than 6,000 types of vitamins and supplements, said she'd almost work at the store for free.

“The rewards in helping people are huge,” she said. “When they come back and tell me, 'That product helped my hot flashes go down, now I can sleep all night long.' Or 'I haven't gotten sick this year because I've been taking this product,' the rewards are huge.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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