EAST COUNTY — The cafeteria at Willis Elementary School buzzed with excitement Jan. 25, as children carrying trays piled high with fruits and veggies rushed to their tables.
These piles of food, however, weren’t for eating — they were for play.
Ten-year-old Trystan Robertson worked quickly. He used a green pepper and black olives to create a Martian.
“I made an alien face!” he shouted in delight to his teammates, as they also worked on their alien planet-themed fruit-and-vegetable display.
Fourth- and fifth-grade students in Willis’ after-school program joined 13 other elementary schools, including Willis, Bashaw, Tara, Gene Witt, Freedom and Braden River elementary schools in the East County, by participating in the Manatee County School District Food Services Department’s third annual “Play with Your Fruits and Veggies Day.” The event ran from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.
Teams from each school battled to claim the top display design for their school. Top designs were submitted into a district-level competition, for which winners will be announced this week.
“It’s cool,” 10-year-old Jacob Donahue said. “We can make whatever we want. It’s awesome.”
Nine-year-old Aidan Pierce agreed.
“It makes me hungry,” he said smiling, as he built a monkey out of a kiwi, grapes and an orange. “The reward should be to eat all the food you made. This is awesome.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at firstname.lastname@example.org.