Students in Dedham Learn to Eat the Rainbow

Dedham Public Schools are incorporating nutrition education in their classrooms with the help of Dietetic Interns from Framingham State University (FSU). The Nutrition Education program strives to meet the wellness policy goal of providing each child with “the knowledge and skills to select a diet that supports health and reduces the risk of illness and future chronic diseases.”

The FSU interns taught a nutrition education lesson titled, “Eat the Rainbow” to 1st through 5th grade students. The lesson emphasized the importance of eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors due to their diverse nutritional benefits.

The students discussed ideas on how they could include more fruits and vegetables in their diet. By the end of the lesson they were able to name fruits and vegetables in each of the 5 color categories and how each color group helps keep a different part of your body healthy.

What's under the rainbow

Visit the John C. Stalker Institute’s (JSI) Resource Center Lessons for K-12 and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts for ideas on how to incorporate nutrition education into your school. JSI offers many different professional development options for school nutrition professionals.

Submitted by: Brooke Gray, FSU Food and Nutrition Graduate Student

Food Group Fun at Mitchell Elementary School

MyPlate ImageAt Needham Public Schools, “Nutrition concepts are integrated into the curriculum and also offered via nutrition promotion as part of the school lunch program” according to the district’s wellness policy.

In spring 2016, third grade students at Mitchell Elementary School learned about the five food groups and how to make a balanced meal with graduate FSU Food and Nutrition interns, Annabelle Ho and Alyssa Smith.

Annabelle Ho teaches about MyPlate

Annabelle Ho teaches about MyPlate

Each lesson began with a discussion of MyPlate, which illustrates a balanced meal with the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

To increase students’ vocabulary and knowledge of foods that belong in the food groups, students played the Who Am I? game, adapted from USDA’s Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum. In the game, cards with foods and beverages from the five food groups were hung around participants’ necks so that they could not see the cards. Students asked their classmates yes or no questions to gather clues to figure out which food or beverage item they were.

After students determined their assigned food or beverage item and which food group they belonged to, students got into groups to create a balanced meal following MyPlate. Students then shared the items of their meal and which food group each beverage or food item was in with the rest of the class!

For more resources on nutrition education lessons for grades K-12 and school wellness initiatives and policies, visit the JSI Resource Center and The Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website.

Submitted by: Annabelle Ho, FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student

Taylor Elementary School Students Love Beans!

TaylorWhen you ask an elementary school student if they like beans they’re likely to yell “EW!”, but you’d be surprised by their reactions when you present them in a fun, interactive way. The students at the Taylor Elementary School in Foxborough, MA will surely tell you that they enjoyed eating beans.

The Taylor School is a silver-awarded USDA Team Nutrition School that participates in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge for Smarter Lunchrooms and was nationally recognized for their efforts toward nutritional excellence. The district’s wellness policy is committed to providing nutrition education and physical activity to the students throughout the school year.

On March 28, dietetic intern Rachel Tigano did a beans taste test and lesson with students in grades K-4. Each student was given the opportunity to come up to a special table after they consumed their lunch to learn about beans and do a taste test for black beans, garbanzo beans, and navy beans. The students learned different facts about beans and were able to engage in conversation about taste. After trying each bean, the students were able to vote for the bean that they liked the best.

Rachel T2

According to the School Nutrition Association, the school environment is where students consume almost half of their daily calories. Exposing young children to new foods in the cafeteria is a great way to help instill healthy eating habits for the future and may help increase acceptance for new foods. The beans involved in the taste test are regularly served on the lunch line salad bar. By creating awareness of the beans through taste testing, the students will be more apt to choose to eat the beans with their lunch.

For more information on wellness policies and ways to incorporate nutrition education into the classroom, visit The Wellness Solution for MA website as well as the K-12 Lessons page in the JSI Resource Center.

Submitted by: Rachel Tigano, FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics Student

Pollard Middle School Demystifies Food Marketing!

With a constant barrage of food marketing in the media, it is no wonder that separating nutrition fact from fiction can be tricky and frustrating. Fear not! The seventh grade students at Pollard Middle School in Needham are now marketing experts ready to save the day.

asmith1 During a three-month span from March to May 2016, four health classes at Pollard Middle School participated in the “Commercial Confusion” nutrition education lesson developed by FSU Food and Nutrition intern Alyssa Smith. Alyssa and fellow intern Annabelle Ho helped the Nutrition and Wellness department for Needham Public Schools uphold the values in their wellness policy by teaching this along with several other lessons to students in kindergarten through 9th grade. 

The “Commercial Confusion” lesson encouraged students to think about how and where food advertising reaches them. By discussing social media and viewing commercials the students learned about tricks used to make foods more appealing like adding animated characters, celebrities and strategic packaging. After decoding various marketing campaigns, students asmith2working in small groups created their own campaigns to market healthy foods including kale, broccoli, and salmon. The creativity was incredible! Students created skits, animated mascots and even created full commercials in only 10 minutes. By the end of the lesson each student was empowered to make more educated choices and see beyond the advertisements.

For more information visit The Wellness Solution for MA website. The John Stalker Institute also has a Resource Center with an abundance of resources including K-12 Lessons.

Submitted by: Alyssa Smith, graduate student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Hanover High School is ready for Breakfast!

Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day, and all ninth and tenth grade students at Hanover High School are now prepared to share the reasons why.

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A 9th grade class discusses some barriers to eating breakfast.

Hanover Public School’s wellness policy states that nutrition education is “…essential to promote student wellness and the development of good lifelong health habits.” On December 7th and 14th, 2015, every ninth and tenth grade student at Hanover High School learned how to make a healthy breakfast part of their lifelong health habits. FSU Food and Nutrition Interns, Robyn Pitera and Brittany Taylor, taught a lesson entitled Consume a Healthy Breakfast,” developed by Robyn Pitera. This lesson was taught to fourteen health classes, 390 students in total.

A 10th grade class goes over the health benefits of breakfast.

A 10th grade class goes over the health benefits of breakfast.

Each lesson started with the students brainstorming the reasons why breakfast is important, such as increased energy levels and improved school performance. After learning that a well-balanced breakfast is made up of three food groups, students were given a list of meals containing two food groups. Working in pairs, they completed the meals with a third food. The class then discussed the reasons why people skip breakfast and worked in groups to solve a breakfast barrier, such as lack of time in the morning. By the end of each lesson, many students were inspired to improve their breakfast routines.

For more information on wellness policies, healthy breakfasts, and ways to incorporate nutrition education into the classroom, visit The Wellness Solution for MA website as well as The School Breakfast Program and K-12 Lesson pages at the JSI Resource Center.

Submitted by: Brittany Taylor, FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics Student

Avery Elementary Students Discover Where Food Comes From!

Noell Redfern Wellness PostDo you really know where your food is coming from? On November 23, 2015, twenty-three fifth grade students at Avery Elementary school in Dedham participated in a lesson called “Farm to Table,” developed and taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Noell Redfern. The lesson introduced students to the concept of farm to table and encouraged students to eat local and seasonal foods.

Where does your food come from? Where does its journey to your plate begin? How far does your food travel? During the lesson, students learned how to answer these questions and discovered that local and seasonal foods are healthier for the environment and our bodies.

To begin the lesson, students identified where certain fruits and vegetables came from by using food packaging. Students were surprised to learn that the fruits and vegetables came from Mexico, Canada, Chile, and California. They learned that foods with a lot of food miles not only require more fuel to travel, but they lose more nutrients the longer they travel. At the end of the lesson, students discussed seasonal fruits and vegetables. The students each created a meal using seasonal ingredients to demonstrate what they learned.

Dedham Public Schools’ Wellness Policy states, “the Nutrition Education Program will impart to each student ‘the knowledge and skills to select a diet that supports health and reduces the risk of illness and future chronic diseases.’” Dedham Public Schools accomplish this goal by integrating nutrition education into the core academic curriculum.

For more resources on wellness policies and ways to incorporate nutrition education at your school, visit the School Wellness Initiative and Policies page at the JSI Resource Center and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website.

Submitted by: Noell Redfern, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Milton’s MyPlate Experience

Last November 10th, 22 third grade students in the Milton School District participated in a discussion-based lesson titled “Building Your Plate With MyPlate,” a lesson adapted by FSU Food and Nutrition Intern, Ryan Gebo. The lesson aligned with the Milton School District Wellness Policy which states the district’s commitment to “providing school environments that promote and protect children’s health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity as a part of the total learning environment.”

USDA MyPlate

To begin, the students’ knowledge of nutrition and the food groups was assessed. Afterwards, the students learned about MyPlate, a tool by the USDA that can guide healthy eating. Although some were familiar with MyPlate, very few students fully understood its purpose. To gain a better understanding, each student was given a picture of a food that needed to be placed on a large MyPlate poster. At the end, the class constructed a large diagram with a variety of foods separated into their proper food groups. To finish off the lesson, students, given blank MyPlate worksheets, were instructed to draw two foods in each category that they would be willing to try.

For more resources on wellness policies and ways to incorporate nutrition education at your school, visit the Lessons for Grades K-12 and School Wellness Initiatives and Policies pages in the JSI Resource Center, and The Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website.

Blog provided by Ryan Gebo, FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics Student

When Allergies Attack, Hanover Fights Back!

“Ensure a safe learning environment based on respectful relationships.” This is one of the district beliefs that guides Hanover Public Schools, and it was evident during an allergy awareness lesson presented to students on October 6, 2014. During the after school program at Center Elementary School, first and second grade students had the opportunity to participate in an original lesson, “Let’s Be Allergy Safe!,” taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Laura Keith.

The lesson began with a children’s book called The Peanut Free Café, by Gloria Koster. In the book, the students of Nutley School enjoy peanut butter in their lunches daily, until a new student arrives with a peanut allergy. The story details the generosity and cleverness of the characters as they create a fun-filled peanut-free café to accommodate the new student’s needs. This concept is familiar to students at Hanover, where peanut-free tables are designated in the cafeterias due to a number of food allergies in the district. Following the book, students discussed how to identify an allergic reaction, and how to prevent these reactions through hand washing and not sharing food. To finish the lesson, students gave a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to indicate proper and improper ways to be allergy-safe.

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Hanover Public Schools’ Wellness Policy advocates for nutrition education and activities that promote student wellness. With food allergies among children skyrocketing in recent years, this lesson raised awareness on this critical issue.

For more information on school wellness and ideas for nutrition education, visit The Wellness Solution for Massachusetts and the Food Allergies and School Wellness Initiatives and Policies pages in the JSI Resource Center. If you have students with food allergies at your school, consider taking one of JSI’s online Food Allergies courses or hosting one of JSI’s Workshops to Go on Food Allergies.

Submitted by: Laura Keith, FSU Food and Nutrition Student