State College

Spikes Fest brings the fun with healthy food

Ike the Spike and Sophia Rearick, 4, do arts and crafts during Spikes Fest on Sunday at Penn State’s Indoor Multi-Sport Facility.
Ike the Spike and Sophia Rearick, 4, do arts and crafts during Spikes Fest on Sunday at Penn State’s Indoor Multi-Sport Facility. psheehan@centredaily.com

Healthy eating habits have to start somewhere — and it might as well be at Spikes Fest.

The annual community event, co-sponsored by Mount Nittany Health and WTAJ, was held at the Penn State Indoor Multi-Sport Facility on Sunday. Families with young children were provided with a variety of activities to choose from, including an inflatable obstacle course and a bounce house.

Scott Walker, general manager of the State College Spikes, said that the celebration is a way of thanking fans for their support throughout the season.

“We ask folks to always come to our games, but we want to give back as much as possible,” said Walker.

We ask folks to always come to our games, but we want to give back as much as possible.

Scott Walker, general manager of the State College Spikes

That means opening up the floor to other community groups like Mid-State Literacy Council, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania and, of course, Mount Nittany Health, which used Spikes Fest as a platform to promote youth nutrition.

Jeannine Lozier, community health and outreach coordinator at MNH, said that the organization has detected increasingly high levels of obesity among local children.

Spikes Fest seemed like as good a time as any to get both parents and their kids thinking about what food they put into their bodies.

“We hope that people can walk away thinking about small changes they can make that will make them healthier,” said Lozier.

To make a dry concept a little more appealing to the event’s youthful audience, MNH slathered it in peanut butter. A table with raisins, celery and pretzels was a popular stop for kids looking to make a project — and a meal — of edible butterflies and spiders.

I think the butterfly shape helped a lot because she doesn’t really enjoy the celery.

Anne Lieb

“If we make the food fun, they’re more likely to eat it,” said Heather Harpster, the booth’s registered dietician.

The extra effort paid dividends — at least in the eyes of one parent. Anne Lieb and her daughter Ryleigh used celery, cream cheese and pretzels to build a butterfly. When it was finished, the 2-year-old nibbled tentatively at the green edges.

“I think the butterfly shape helped a lot because she doesn’t really enjoy the celery,” said Lieb.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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