Opera mixes healthy food choices and comedy

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Story is set in school cafeteria

By Ron Benningfield

LaRue County Schools’ elementary students will soon be able to enjoy a comic opera that brings to light two of the major health problems facing Kentuckians today – obesity and diabetes.

Set in a school cafeteria, Get Stuffed concerns decisions that must be made about food. The production features vocalizing vegetables along with a big helping of other opinionated edible characters, all competing to influence one child’s daily diet.     

The story line follows Zach, a young boy, who is unable to concentrate in class because he’s hungry. He has a dream after school in which he is introduced to a singing apple, cheese and broccoli. Though done with humor, the nutrition information of the different foods is accurate. It focuses on encouraging children to make wholesome daily decisions about what to eat.

“I strongly believe that the best way to improve eating habits is through educating our young students so that they can develop good eating habits early,” said DeeAnne Sanders, the district’s food services coordinator, who scheduled the opera.

Statistics document how important that education is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the fifth-highest rate of obesity in the nation. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services found that 63 percent of Kentucky adults were either obese or overweight and that 35 percent of Kentucky’s children, ages two through five, are either overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. 

In 2006, the Kentucky Medical Association ranked Kentucky seventh in the nation for the highest percentage (9.9 percent) of the adult population with diabetes. 

LaRue Nutrition Services is sponsoring the opera. With both elementary schools qualifying as School-wide Title I schools, Sanders received a discounted price for each performance, which lasts about 35 minutes.

The Schmidt Opera Outreach Program and the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre will present the performances March 30 at Hodgenville Elementary School (8:30 and 9:30 a.m.) and 1:30 p.m. at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.