Westside Community Schools' first family event to promote healthful eating drew about three dozen people in May 2011.
At the second outing, that fall, some 500 students and parents rocked Westside Middle School during a performance by Jill Jayne, a self-styled rock star nutritionist who sets the virtues of healthy lifestyles to rock music.
This year the district is taking it up another notch. It's bringing Jayne back on Aug. 29 for a free District 66 event open to the public at the Westside High School stadium from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We've had tons of support,” said Diane Zipay, Westside's nutrition services director and the event's organizer. “I'm just really excited about it.”
The event will address nutrition as well as physical activity.
Children and parents can visit 40 booths and vendors, including a half-dozen farmers market stands, and participate in cooking demonstrations with local chefs, including CÚdric Fichepain of Le Voltaire, Brian Zuerlein of Jimi D's and Arturo Valenzuela of Access 66 Catering.
Also offering samples will be Westside elementary student Bence Brown, whose tuna casserole recipe was Nebraska's winning entry in first lady Michelle Obama's healthy lunch recipe contest, earning him a trip to Washington, D.C. Participants also can snack on locally raised Little Red Barn beef burgers, MorningStar Farms' black bean burgers and Sysco's fruit and vegetable buffet.
The Fuel Up to Play 60 Fitness Challenge will offer participants a chance to play. Westside football players and celebrity athletes will be on hand to help.
Jayne's show, Jump with Jill, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Jayne is a musician and also a registered dietitian with a master's degree in nutrition education. Thousands of kids nationwide see her rock 'n' roll nutrition shows every year.
Zipay said opening the event to the public and moving it to the stadium will give kids more room to dance and her the ability to bring in more vendors.
Zipay has been working with local growers for the past several years to put more locally grown foods on Westside's menus. Using locally grown produce can reduce nutrient loss due to long transport times. It also provides markets for local producers. Zipay has been working to cook more menu items from scratch, another move aimed at making meals more healthful.
Zipay calls the event — and District 66's efforts to promote more healthful eating — a “Food (r)Evolution,” a play on the popular “Food Revolution” movement promoted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Substituting “evolution” for “revolution,” she said, recognizes that it will take a more gradual and considered change to make needed adjustments.
ConAgra Foods, which will be giving out two-pound bags of its Ultragrain flour, is the presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include Hiland Dairy and Kellogg's.