MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Piggly Wiggly here has once again teamed up with Southern Living magazine to host a nutrition show, but this year they are taking the program to local elementary schools.
"Mr. Pig's Wacky & Wild Food Pyramid Adventure," an action-packed show that is part of Piggly Wiggly's "Kids and the Basics" program, kicked off Aug. 3 in Somerville, S.C., and will continue in supermarkets until Aug. 31. The venue switches Sept. 2 to local elementary schools, and will continue throughout next month, in Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.
According to Underwood, the program -- held outdoors on supermarket premises and usually in the gym in schools -- allows host Nancy Nutrition and other performers to teach children in grades K to 3 about nutrition and healthy living. Approximately 80 to 100 children attend each 30-minute show, which is performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mr. Pig is on hand in costume, and a 45-foot Piggly Wiggly tour bus is the backdrop for the shows, held in supermarket parking lots.
Children are also given gift bags filled with sponsor samples and a 32-page promotion guide. After the supermarket shows, children can pick up sponsor recipes that are displayed in a 5-foot cutout of Mr. Pig that has been available in more than 400 stores during the month of August. Gift bags given out at the school's shows will contain coupons to be used at Piggly Wiggly stores. This year's sponsors are Kellogg's K-Sentials cereal, Jimmy Dean sausage, Keebler cookies, Reynolds wrap, Best Foods' Hellmann's mayonnaise, Pillsbury's Green Giant canned products, Bryan Foods hot dogs and Coca-Cola's Powerade.
"Last year was the first year in which we had the program, and it ran in July and August," said Debbie Underwood, director of marketing at Piggly Wiggly. "This year we wanted to get into the back-to-school time frame, so it is running through September. This gives us a chance to see a lot more children.
"We tested the program at a school in Homeland, Ala., back in October," continued Underwood. "We found that K-3 tested the best. It's a fun way for children to learn about eating right."
Southern Living, which developed the multimedia shows, also hires the performers, rents tents, and contacts manufacturers to solicit their participation. Krislin Smith, assistant programs manager for Southern Living, views the show as an important educational tool for children.
Martha Johnston, vice president of business development for Southern Living, noted that "Due to the hectic pace of most families today, many children are helping out by playing a larger role in the preparation of their own meals. We want kids to realize the importance of good nutrition in their daily diets."
She went on to say that one goal of the program is to convey that healthy eating is simple and fun.
That's why another component of Kids and the Basics is the Piggly Wiggly/Southern Living "I Can Do It Myself" recipe contest. Children ages 5 to 12 are asked to submit their own recipes to Southern Living. Two age groups participate: 5 to 9 and 10 to 12. The contest ends in December.
In February 2000, 10 finalists will be chosen from 18 semifinalists, and they will travel to Southern Living headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., to have a cookoff in Southern Living's test kitchens.
Two grand-prize winners, one from each group, will be awarded an Orlando, Fla., vacation for four and $500 worth of groceries from Piggly Wiggly.
In addition, last year's semifinalists' recipes are being featured in the 32-page guide and also in the August issue of Southern Living.