Dedham Public Schools Learns About The Power of Local Food


Dedham Public Schools believe that good nutrition and learning go hand in hand. The district strives to uphold its belief along with the values in its wellness policy by incorporating nutrition education in the classroom with the help of  Dietetic Interns from Framingham State University.  

On April 10th, 2017, Mariya Stephenson, together with fellow interns Kelly Thomson and Mike Niejaldik, presented a lesson titled “Zip Code Unknown – The Power of the Local” to a group of twenty high school students. The lesson focused on the benefits of eating seasonal and local, and the impact on human health, environment and sustainability.

Handout from the lesson titled “Zip Code Unknown – The Power of the Local”

During the lesson, students enjoyed a few short films by fervent food advocates, including the renown journalist Michael Pollan, followed by discussions on how far does food travel, what constitutes local and seasonal food, why is it beneficial, and where could it be purchased. They also took part in calculating the amount of gas used and CO2 emitted based on the travel distance of a given produce, as well as in creating a Massachusetts Seasonal Fruit and Veggie calendar, while conferring  with the Seasonal Food Guide by the Grace Communication Foundation. By the end of the presentation all students were all able to describe at least two benefits of eating locally, and named at least three fruit and vegetables grown in Massachusetts during the summer. More importantly, they felt empowered to make more educated choices when it comes to local and seasonal products.

For more information on wellness policies and  how to incorporate nutrition education into your school visit the Lessons for Grades K-12 and School Wellness Initiatives and Policies pages in the John C. Stalker Institute (JSI) Resource Center, and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts. JSI offers many different professional development options for school nutrition professionals.

Submitted by: Mariya Stephenson, FSU Food and Nutrition Student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Serving up MyPlate in the Classroom at Needham Public Schools!

Framingham State University recently partnered up with Jen Tuttelman, Nutrition Outreach Coordinator for Needham Public Schools, and the third-grade class at Mitchell Elementary School to draw upon the Needham Public School’s district Wellness Policy and promote healthy school lunch and child nutrition.

Coordinated Program in Dietetics graduate student Justin Mayhew from Framingham State University is serving up MyPlate in the classroom.

A lesson adapted from USDA FNS, serving up MyPlate introduces the concept of a healthy balanced meal by visually showing the five foods groups and the appropriate portion sizes that should constitute each meal.

During the presentation, the third graders were asked to group common foods into each of the five food group categories and discuss how each of the food groups contribute to help them play and grow. To go even further, when given common food items found in school lunch, the third-grade class was prompted to think about how those foods fulfill a combination of the food groups.

During the last part of the lesson, when given a blank MyPlate sheet, students were asked to think about their favorite school lunch meal, or a meal that they bring from home, and draw each of the foods into their respective food group category.

By prompting the students to think about how a single meal item can fit into multiple food groups and by having them apply it to a meal that they are familiar with, it created a spark of critical thinking that progressed the students’ knowledge of MyPlate even further than from what they have already been exposed to.

Throughout the lesson, the kids were extremely excited to talk about the different foods they like to eat and appeared genuinely interested in how nutrition in each of the food groups allow them to have more energy to play and grow.

Submitted by: Justin Mayhew, Graduate student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics


Dedham Public Schools Learn about Sourcing Local and Seasonal Foods

At Dedham Public Schools, value is placed upon bringing nutrition education to students of all ages. According to Dedham Public Schools’ Wellness Policy, Dedham Public Schools are committed to providing school environments that promote and protect lifelong health, well-being, and the ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. To accomplish this, dietetic interns from the Framingham State University’s (FSU) Coordinated Program incorporate Dedham’s Wellness Policy into each lesson they teach at the schools.

One of the many goals of the spring 2017 FSU interns, during their time at Dedham, was to bring awareness regarding the benefits of local and seasonal foods. Students in a wellness class offered at Dedham High School watched educational videos by Michael Pollan that discussed the story of our food from seed to table in order to identify the benefits of eating locally and seasonally.

Using information and skills gathered from the video and lesson discussion, the students were then able to determine the best food procurement location based on the least carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and travel time from different locations around the nation to Dedham, Massachusetts. After the activity, students were shocked by the difference in CO2 emissions when comparing foods’ travel mileage from different states and local cities.

Students also created a colorful take-home guide showing the annual availability of local fruits and vegetables. This guide can help students and their families make year-round local produce choices.

For educational materials about nutrition-related health topics, gardening, farm-to- school, and more, visit the John C. Stalker Institute’s (JSI) Resource Center for Lessons for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools.

Submitted by: Kelly Thompson, Graduate student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Memorial Elementary Students Learn to Eat the Vegetable Rainbow

Students at Memorial Elementary School in Milford, MA have been busy learning about and tasting vegetables at school this spring. As part of the district’s wellness policy, Carla Tuttle, Food Service Director, has welcomed Framingham State University dietetic interns to share their knowledge of nutrition with Milford Public School’s students. 

During March, Framingham State University graduate student and dietetic intern Sarah Ferrara wheeled a cart loaded with fresh vegetables up and down the aisles of the cafeteria for all students to enjoy. The most popular vegetables of the event were crunchy carrots and sweet red bell pepper!

Later in April, to begin ‘Healthy Kids Week,’ Sarah returned to Memorial Elementary School to teach nutrition education lessons in the classroom and to continue her efforts to encourage students to taste the vegetable rainbow! Eating vegetables of all the different colors of the rainbow provides many different nutrients to be healthy!

Students were taught about the importance of eating healthy to grow tall and strong, about MyPlate, and about different vegetables to incorporate in meals and snacks. Sarah read the students a story about different vegetables and afterward the students colored a worksheet to bring home and share with their families about which vegetables they would be excited to eat! Students were especially excited to learn about asparagus and beets, which many students reported were vegetables they had not previously known. Try adding new vegetables to family dinners at home sometime soon and taste the vegetable rainbow!

Submitted by: Sarah Ferrara, Graduate student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics

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