The 109’s Westcliff Elementary School is one of 14 schools in Texas chosen to participate in a new program designed to promote the benefits of healthy eating and living.

The program, called Nutrigram, was developed by the Cooper Institute of Dallas to assess students’ knowledge of nutrition and their eating behaviors. Students start the web-based program by taking two interactive surveys about their eating behaviors and attitudes and then are rewarded with playing a video game.

“Children have a lack of good nutrition knowledge, so the Cooper Institute wanted to figure out a way to teach them,” said Georgi Roberts, FWISD director of health and physical education. “We are trying to make nutrition fun and get the kids to play the video game at home.”

Westcliff third through fifth grade students began the pilot testing of the program May 13.

“I learned about different types of healthy and unhealthy food,” said Marisa, a fifth grader t at Westcliff. “I want to tell my mom to buy healthy food and not chips and Coke.”

The Cooper Institute, which is partnering with the Texas Department of Agriculture for the program, is investigating students’ knowledge and behaviors regarding their eating habits. The video game they created allows the students to choose healthy foods over unhealthy foods.

“People don’t know how little children know about nutrition,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to change the culture.”