Improving Nutrition from Elementary School to the College Campus

Dedham Public Schools are committed to promoting and protecting lifelong health and a positive learning environment for students. The district has recently adapted their Wellness Policy to focus on improving student health through nutrition and physical activity.  The policy provides applicable methods to help families, teachers, and the food service department better integrate health lessons into everyday life. In order to optimize nutrition education, the school’s Food Service Department has partnered with the Framingham State University Food and Nutrition Coordinated Program.

This spring, Framingham State University’s Dietetic Graduate Student Olivia Weinstein introduced first and third graders from Oakland Elementary School to an array of fruits and vegetables. Students learned about the importance of eating the colors of the rainbow to enhance their health.  Students had the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables during the “Make a Rainbow” activity, in which students created rainbows by adding pieces of produce to a wooden skewer.

Olivia Weinstein, FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student.

In addition, Weinstein taught a high school Women’s Health Class about added sugar and how to identify it on a food label.  Using a mystery scenario, students investigated numerous food labels to calculate a character’s daily added-sugar consumption. Weinstein took the lesson a step further and gave the students tools to navigate campus dining in anticipation of attending college.  Using materials found on MyPlate, students gained a better understanding of a healthy breakfast and how to order healthy foods at coffee shops and other food institutions.  One student commented that she now feels that she “knows what to order when she is on her way to school or on her way to soccer practice.”

Interested in including nutrition education lessons at your school? The John Stalker Institute is an excellent resource for lesson plans, handouts, and other nutrition resources to help meet the initiatives of your school’s wellness policy.

Submitted by: Olivia Weinstein FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics