At 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
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
When 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.
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
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.
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 working 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