Needham Public School Students Learn About Food Marketing

Needham Public School’s wellness policy outlines its commitment to providing students the education necessary to make lifestyle choices that promote optimal health and well-being throughout their entire lives. Needham Public Schools has adopted a six-dimensional wellness model focusing on social, emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and occupational/leisure health. Needham Public School’s food service department promotes students’ nutritional health by offering unlimited fruits and vegetables at all meals.

In April of 2019, Framingham State University Coordinated Program in Dietetics student Rebecca Drown presented a nutrition lesson about food marketing to seventh graders. Through the examination of cereal boxes, students learned about marketing strategies used by food companies to target different audiences. Students then had an opportunity to utilize classroom technology to create and present a marketing strategy for their own brand of cereal.

“Don’t be fooled” handout used to encourage students to think critically about the nutritional content of their food.

“Don’t be fooled” handout used to encourage students to think critically about the nutritional content of their food.

After exploring the persuasive power of food marketing, students were encouraged to turn to the   nutrition facts label to make well informed decisions about food purchases. Students were given the “don’t be fooled!”  handout, which provided criteria for picking a healthy cereal. Using the same cereal boxes as before, students examined the nutrition facts label and determined if the cereal met the criteria or not.

Identifying, and being cognizant of food marketing strategies is a skill students will be able to take with them and implement for the rest of their lives. Having these skills will allow students to make more informed, nutritionally sound decisions about the food they purchase.

For more information on how to bring engaging nutrition education to your school district, visit the John Stalker Institute’s Resource Center.

Submitted by Rebecca Drown, Food and Nutrition Student in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

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