Sam Adams Elementary students McKenzie Majewski, Collin Bogue and Shaylee Fricke decide if a food item is healthy or not in an interactive game played during an assembly Wednesday morning. Leader photo/ALY GIBSON

Archived Story

National program teaches healthy habits

Published 4:46pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sam Adams Elementary School students gathered in the gym Wednesday morning ready to learn healthy eating and exercise habits from a nationally acclaimed program called “FoodPlay Productions.”

Thanks to a tri-county collaborative grant with the Van Buren Intermediate School District (ISD), Berrien RESA and the Lewis Cass ISD, Sam Adams Elementary School was able to offer the healthy habits assembly to kindergarten through sixth-grade students. “FoodPlay Productions,” an Emmy Award-winning theater show, was founded in 1982 under original sponsorship by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kids in the audience get to follow characters that strive to exercise more and make healthy food choices. The program also stresses the importance of reading food labels, buying locally grown fruits and vegetables and eating enough each day.

“We have to fight fire with fire,” founder Barbara Stroper said. “We need to use the same techniques advertisers use in order to get kids excited about healthy foods and healthy practices.”

Sam Adams Principal Dee Melville-Voss said the program seemed to be a success with the students and teachers.

“The kids had a lot of fun with it,” Melville-Voss said. “And it was the first assembly for the kindergarten students, and they did such a great job.”

The production follows Johnny, a juggling coach, who helps his future juggler, Janey Junkfood, made right food choices. According to “FoodPlay” sources, the program travels throughout elementary schools in the United States to help combat alarming childhood obesity numbers.

Voss said when the opportunity presented itself, she jumped at the chance.

“We want these great things to come to us and to Cassopolis,” Voss said. “We want to make sure our students get the best that we can give them.”

The program provided laughs and interactive entertainment by demonstrating stretches, listing healthy foods and pulling up three students for a game-show style activity.

For more information on “FoodPlay,” visit

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