Author Archives: JSI Grad Intern Annabelle Ho

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.


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

A Healthy Breakfast is Easy as ABC

What better way to help promote a new breakfast program than to combine a fun nutrition education lesson on the subject with a coupon for a free school breakfast?

Last October 2014, one hundred fifty Dedham Middle School students participated in a nutrition education class called “ABC’s to a Healthy Breakfast,” taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Tara Robinson. The Dedham High School breakfast program has a high success rate, so the district decided to implement the program at their middle school this school year. Any new program needs innovative ways to spread the word and increase the level of participation. This nutrition lesson was a great way to do just that. It teaches students the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, and provides them with examples of balanced breakfasts that are offered through the school.

During the lesson, students learned that eating a healthy breakfast has many benefits such as an increase in focus, grades, attendance, and energy. Then, the students had fun learning what components make up a balanced breakfast by playing a dice game. Several volunteers rolled three colored dice. Each die represented a different food group such as protein, whole grain, and fruit. There were six healthy food examples in each food group with a corresponding number 1-6. As the students rolled each die, their results were written on a board giving them all examples of a healthy, balanced breakfast. By the end of the lesson, the students were able to not only build a healthy breakfast, but to discuss how they can swap foods in each food group to create a delicious meal appealing to their individual tastes and preferences.

Image 2Dedham Public School’s Wellness Policy promotes nutrition education through marketing initiatives and actively offering healthy foods on the lunch line.

If your school is interested in implementing a school breakfast program or looking for ways to incorporate nutrition education, visit the School Breakfast and K-12 lessons pages in the JSI Resource Center and The Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website.

~ blog provided by Tara Robinson, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Got to Eat ‘Em All: The Five Food Groups

Five special education students at the Walpole School district got to participate in an interactive nutrition lesson called Got to Eat ‘Em All,” developed and taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Alysha Bruso, last October 6, 2014. Everyone enjoyed learning about the food groups through MyPlate while getting to play with their food!

During this lesson, the students were introduced to MyPlate and led in a discussion about each of the five foods groups. They learned about the foods in each food group, as well as the benefits that each of these groups provides to their bodies. Each student got a chance to explore new foods and share foods they like to eat from each of the groups.

Afterwards the students got to build Real Mr. Potato Heads using real potatoes and foods from all five food groups.


The students’ Mr. Potato Head creations

Their challenge was to make a Mr. Potato Head containing at least three of the five food groups using foods such as oranges, blueberries, carrots, broccoli, cheerios, cheese sticks, and turkey jerky sticks. The students had a lot of fun getting creative with this activity, and some of them even tried new, healthy foods!

The Walpole School District Wellness Policy recognizes “the relationship between student well-being and student achievement.” Therefore, Walpole Public Schools aim to provide “developmentally appropriate and sequential nutrition education” to all of its students.

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

~ Blog provided by Alysha Bruso, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Hidden Ingredients: Students Learn About Peanut Allergies

ImageOn October 6th, elementary students in the after school program at Center Elementary School in Hanover looked on in surprise as the box of crackers offered to them turned out to actually contain a carrot. As several students asked why a carrot would be in a box of crackers, this provided the perfect opportunity to begin an original lesson plan on peanut allergies taught by FSU Food and Nutrition Intern, Penny Tallent.

Students quickly caught on that many packaged foods can contain ingredients we cannot see. For students with peanut allergies, this is an important concept to get across. During the lesson, students learned what a food allergy is and how it can affect people. They practiced some important nutrition label reading skills, to help them decide if a food item could have hidden peanuts. Students also learned what they can do to help other students with peanut allergies, including not sharing food, proper hand washing, and not bringing in foods that contain peanuts.

To test their awareness of foods that could possibly contain hidden peanuts, the children took part in a game. Pictures of various foods were passed around, and students were asked if their item might contain peanuts. Students came up with many unique ways in which various food items could contain hidden peanuts. They were also given an opportunity to share stories of people they knew with different food allergies, and some of the things they did to help prevent them from getting sick.

For more food allergy education, the John Stalker Institute offers a Food Allergies Workshop to Go and an online Food Allergies professional development course. Be sure to also visit the Food Allergies page in the JSI Resource Center and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website for more information on developing your nutrition program and school wellness policy.

~ blog provided by Penny Tallent, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Dedham Middle School Students Have Fun Getting the Whole Scoop on Whole Grains!

Do you know what a whole grain is? What is the difference between whole grains and refined grains? How would you determine if a product is made with whole grains or refined grains?

These are some of the questions that the students at Dedham Middle School learned how to answer on September 29, 2014. Framingham State University’s Food and Nutrition intern Kimberly Edick developed and taught a lesson called “Whole Grains: The Whole Scoop!” to 150 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students.

Image 1The Dedham Public School District recently made a change to serve grain products that are made with at least 51% whole grains, to meet the current nutrition standards for the National School Meal Program. To enable students to understand why they should eat whole grains and encourage them to consume more whole grain products, Dedham has focused on whole grain education to boost participation in their school meals program.

Image 2After learning the amazing qualities and benefits of whole grains, students used real food packages to determine whether the product was made with whole grains or refined grains. Hands-on learning about whole grains supports Dedham’s Wellness Policy goal of promoting healthy eating patterns by incorporating whole grains into their everyday food choices.

More resources on whole grains, wellness policies, and ways to incorporate nutrition education into the school environment can be found in The Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website and the Whole Grains and School Wellness Initiatives and Policies pages in the JSI Resource Center.

Submitted by: Kimberly Edick, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Hockomock YMCA Brings Nutrition Detectives to Third Graders

Throughout the school year, towns affiliated with the Hockomock YMCA’s three locations are given the opportunity for their third graders to become Nutrition Detectives. Nutrition Detectives is an evidence-based curriculum developed by Dr. David Katz with the help of his five children. In this program, students are introduced to five clues which can be used in the supermarket and at home to help determine which foods are ‘take it’ (healthy) foods, and which are ‘leave it’ (not so healthy) foods.

Nutrition Detectives

Above, clue 4 is presented to local 3rd graders as part of the Nutrition Detectives program presented by the Hockomock YMCA.

Third graders are targeted for this program because studies have shown that they are the most receptive age group to these ideas. So far this school year, third grade students in Franklin, Foxboro, and North Attleboro have taken steps to becoming certified Nutrition Detectives. In the second half of this school year, more sessions will be scheduled in surrounding communities. The program is fun and interactive and provides students with skills to make great food choices for the rest of their lives. FSU Food and Nutrition student, Kiara Brown, had a chance to assist in teaching with these 3rd graders as part of her internship at the Hockomock YMCA and had as much fun as the students!

The Nutrition Detectives program includes about an hour long lesson, which can be done as a whole or broken into two sessions. In the lesson(s), the five clues are explained and students are given the chance use their skills and practice reading real food labels and ingredient lists. After completion, the new Nutrition Detectives are awarded certificates of completion, as well as a take home letter to explain to parents and guardians how to continue the skills at home if desired.

More information concerning the Nutrition Detectives program can be found on Dr. Katz’s webpage. To learn how you can get Nutrition Detectives started in your community, contact Marykate Bergen, the Community Health and Wellness Director of the Hockomock YMCAs, at Ideas for additional nutrition-related lessons for grades K-12 can be found in The John C. Stalker Institute Resource Center.

~Blog written by: Kiara Brown, B.S., FSU Undergraduate Food and Nutrition Student, Hockomock YMCA Fall Intern

A Meal Fit for a Goat

GregoryGregory, the main character in Mitchell Sharmat’s children’s book Gregory the Terrible Eater, is not your typical goat. Instead of tin cans and shoes, Gregory prefers to eat vegetables, fruits, eggs and fish! As part of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project’s Kindergarten Initiative, on March 31, 2014, kindergarten students at the Belmont Street Community School in Worcester had a chance to read Gregory the Terrible Eater with FSU Food and Nutrition graduate intern Kate Walsh, and create a breakfast for Gregory out of his favorite healthy foods.

Through a weekly classroom curriculum focusing on different themes such as “Healthy Snacking” and “Building Healthy Meals,” the Kindergarten Initiative (KI) educates kindergartners and their families about local, healthy foods. The goal of the Gregory the Terrible Eater lesson was to help students understand how different food groups fit into MyPlate and why balanced meals are important. Students read Gregory the Terrible Eater as a group, then spent some time thinking about different foods that would make a healthy meal for Gregory.

Based in predominately low-income schools within the Worcester Public School (WPS) district, the Kindergarten Initiative reaches 700 students in 29 classrooms during the school year. Local food tastings and farm visits are integrated into the curriculum as a way to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. To that end, the KI focus is consistent with the WPS Wellness Policy, which vows to “purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables,” and to provide nutrition education that “includes participatory activities such as…taste testing and farm visits.”

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: Kate Walsh, FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition student