Author Archives: JSI Grad Intern Leslie

Dedication to Health and Wellness: Getting an Early Start!

It is never too early to promote health and wellness!  Worcester Public Schools takes on this philosophy with its nutrition and physical activity beginning as early as kindergarten.

As a part of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project Kindergarten Initiative, FSU Food and Nutrition intern Megan Rohr presented a lesson called “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with Gregory” to a kindergarten class at Worcester’s Belmont Street Community School on March 31, 2014.  Through this lesson, kindergarten students were able to learn and practice hands on how to build Untitledhealthy, well-balanced meals using principles of USDA’s MyPlate.  After reading the popular children’s book Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat, students found images of healthy foods from grocery store flyers and created a healthy meal to feed to a three-dimensional image of Gregory the Goat.  Within this lesson, discussions focused on healthy eating, the MyPlate food groups and importance of eating healthy.

Worcester Public Schools is an excellent example of designing and implementing a successful and well-rounded wellness policy.  With a strong emphasis on nutrition, Worcester Public Schools is dedicated towards promoting healthy lifestyles.  Students of all grades are actively involved in nutrition-related initiatives such as food tastings, farm visits and school gardens.

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.

~ blog provided by Megan Rohr, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Eating a Rainbow: What Can Color Do for You?

Last March, twenty-one second grade students at Elmwood Elementary School in Millbury received a lesson called “Eating a Rainbow taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Carolyn Holland. This lesson, adapted from United Way, is intended to encourage students to eat a variety of colored fruits and vegetables by educating on the health benefits associated with eating each color.

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Elmwood Elementary students were asked to name and guess the color of a variety of fruit and vegetable riddles.

During the lesson, students were provided with fruit and vegetable riddles, and were asked to guess the name of the fruit or vegetable and its color. After determining the five colored groups, students worked to brainstorm a list of fruits and vegetables of a designated color.

After presenting their list of fruits and vegetables to the class, students were educated on the health benefits related to each. By the end of the lesson, students were able to name the five colored fruit and vegetable groups and the health benefits associated with eating fruits and vegetables of different colors. For example, when asked the question, “What color fruits or vegetables should we eat to help our brain power and memory in school?”, students responded with “Blue, black or purple!” Students were able to recognize that blue, black and purple fruits and vegetables are categorized in the same colored group, because they provide us with nutrients that help boost our brain function and memory.

The Millbury Public Schools’ Wellness Policy states the district has “a responsibility to help students and staff establish and maintain life-long healthy eating patterns” as “wellness is an essential ingredient for optimizing student performance and potential.” The policy supports “wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity as part of the total learning environment.”

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.

~ blog provided by Carolyn Holland, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Milton Students are ‘Tuning In’ to the Five Food Groups

When you read, you begin with A-B-C; when you sing, you begin with Do-Re-Mi; and when children start to make healthy food choices, you begin with fruits, veggies, grains, protein, dairy!

Those five words just happen to be the basis of an April 7, 2014 MyPlate focused nutrition education lesson received by twenty-six second grade students at Glover Elementary School in Milton, MA.

During the “Healthy and Happy: Take 5!” lesson, developed and taught by graduate FSU Food and Nutrition intern Emily Saperia, students were challenged to write lyrics to a song that reflected their understanding of how each of the five food groups can keep us healthy and happy by helping us grow strong bones and muscles, giving us energy, and giving us special ‘powers’ like good night vision.

The lesson was a clear success both in terms of students’ demonstration of understanding as well as their enjoyment. By the end of the lesson, every student echoed the refrain: We can be so healthy – if we eat fruit, veggies, grains, protein, dairy! We can be so happy – if we eat fruits, veggies, grains, proteins, dairy!

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Second grade students at Glover Elementary School in Milton learned about the five food groups in a creative way – through singing.

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.

~ blog provided by Emily E. Saperia, FSU Food and Nutrition Graduate Student

West Boylston Students Say Hooray for Healthy Hydration!

A student at Major Edwards Elementary School in Boylston, MA learns about the importance of hydration.

FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Jennifer Navaroli, teaches students about the importance of hydration.

Do you know how many gallons of water are contained in our bodies? On March 24, 2014, twenty-one fourth grade students at Major Edwards Elementary School  in West Boylston learned we have approximately ten gallons of water in our bodies! Students participated in a lesson about hydration taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Jennifer Navaroli. This lesson, “Healthy Hydration!”, is adapted from Water, Water, Everywhere, a lesson provided by the Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. “Healthy Hydration!” is intended to increase awareness regarding the importance of hydration for healthy living.

During this lesson, students investigated the crucial roles of water in the body. For example, students learned that water transports nutrients, aids in digestion, and acts as a cushion for joints. They also formulated ways to prevent and combat dehydration. Finally, students tested their hydration knowledge by correctly identifying true or false statements related to hydration.

The West Boylston Public Schools’ Wellness Policy strives to “provide a comprehensive learning environment for developing and practicing lifelong wellness behaviors.” It is important for the entire school environment to positively influence a student’s understanding and practices as they relate to sound nutrition.

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.

~ blog provided by Jennifer Navaroli, FSU Food and Nutrition Student

Hillside Elementary School Students Have Fun with MyPlate

Second grade students at Hillside Elementary School in Needham participated in a nutrition lesson focusing on MyPlate and the five food groups presented on April 7, 2014 by graduate FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Jane MacKeen.  The lesson “Smart Snacking with MyPlate” was developed to create healthy snacks for kids using 2-3 different foods from the five food groups.  The goal: to build a solid nutrition foundation for this young age group as a way to create long-term, healthy habits.

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Second grade students at Hillside Elementary School learn about MyPlate with FSU Food and Nutrition Intern Jane MacKeen.

The lesson began with discussing the MyPlate poster, including how each quadrant of the plate represented fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy and the foods found in each group.  For example, an apple is a fruit and milk is dairy.  The students then went to their desks to create their own healthy snack using a MyPlate worksheet. Their challenge: create a snack using 2-3 different foods from the five food groups. The results: great ideas including pretzels (grain) and apple slices (fruit) dipped in peanut butter (protein), and a cheese stick (protein) with whole grain crackers (grain) and grapes (fruit).  The students loved talking about their ideas. Their teacher then had them all sing, “Oh bananas are my favorite fruit” as a thank you; it was fantastic. 

Needham Public Schools’ Wellness Policy states “nutrition concepts are integrated into the curriculum and also offered via nutrition promotion as part of the school lunch program.”  Professional development and training are offered to staff, as well as collaborating with families and the community to foster children’s nutrition, healthy lifestyles and lifelong physical activity.

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.

~ blog provided by Jane MacKeen, FSU Food and Nutrition Graduate Student

Pierce Middle School Students Unmask the Media

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FSU Food and Nutrition intern Tina White teaches Milton Middle School students about food marketing to youth.

“Have you ever purchased a food or beverage because you saw an advertisement on TV, on-line or in a magazine?”  On May 5, 2014, students at Pierce Middle School in Milton, MA answered this question and more as part of a nutrition education class called Unmasking the Media: Understanding Food Advertisements, developed and taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Tina White.

The students learned about why companies use advertisements, who companies market to, and common marketing strategies used by companies to sell their products.  The students watched a variety of food and beverage commercials and identified the target markets and tactics used to persuade viewers to buy the products.  They also learned that food companies may give us misleading information, such as promising better athletic performance, in order to sell their products.

By the end of the lesson, students unmasked the media and were able to use their new knowledge to interpret food advertisements in order to make informed and healthier food choices, something we should all learn to do!

The Unmasking the Media lesson falls in line with the Milton Public Schools’ Wellness Policy, which states that “the district supports a healthy environment where children learn about and participate in dietary and lifestyle practices, and discourages practices that promote unhealthy activities and messages.”

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.

~ blog provided by Tina White, FSU Food and Nutrition Graduate Student

West Boylston Students Learn to Eat a Rainbow of Colors!

This past spring, 50 first and second grade students at Major Edwards Elementary School in West Boylston, MA received a lesson on the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. This lesson, entitled “Eat a Rainbow” and taught by graduate FSU Food and Nutrition intern Kirtan Singh, featured both original content as well as components adapted from Bergen County’s “Ever Taste a Rainbow?” lesson. The goal? To introduce elementary age children to the importance of eating a “rainbow” of colors of fruits and vegetables.

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Students at Major Edwards Elementary School ran an obstacle course while learning about fruits and vegetables in different color groups.

During the lesson, students were first shown pictures of different fruits and vegetables and introduced to produce from different color groups (yellow, red, green, blue/violet, white, and orange).

Next, students were divided into groups, one group for each color, and were asked to run an obstacle course in the gymnasium. At the end of each obstacle, an intern or teacher asked each student to name a fruit or vegetable in a certain color group. This allowed the students to become more familiar with the fruits and vegetables in the rainbow, while being physically active.

The West Boylston Public School Wellness Policy calls on educators to “provide more opportunities for students to engage in physical activity,” as well as to “support and promote proper dietary habits contributing to students’ health status and academic performance.” Incorporating nutrition into physical education classes can help reinforce nutrition concepts, while achieving the wellness policy goals.

Visit the JSI Resource Center for information on ways to integrate nutrition education into PE. For more resources on wellness policies and ways to incorporate nutrition education at your school, visit JSI’s School Wellness Initiative and Policies page and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website.

~ blog provided by Kirtan Singh, FSU Food and Nutrition Graduate Student

Millbury Elementary Students Get Cooking with Whole Grains!

The Millbury Public Schools Wellness Policy states “Students will have the opportunity to practice behaviors that enhance health and/or reduce health risks”. One of the best ways to get students practicing healthy behaviors, including healthy eating, is by getting them in the kitchen.

On March 7th, fourth and fifth grade students participated in an interactive nutrition education lesson titled “Choosing and Using Whole Grains during an after school program taught by FSU Food and Nutrition intern, Amanda Meisner. Students first learned the differences between whole grains and refined grains by exploring the different parts of the grain and the nutrients they contain.

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Supplies for the mixing team to prepare the Apple-Raisin Quinoa Salad recipe.

Next, it was time to cook! The class was divided into three teams—measuring, chopping and mixing. Each team was assigned a different part of the Apple-Raisin Quinoa Salad, adapted from this recipe. Students worked in their teams to gather the spinach, chop the apples using safe knife skills, and measure ingredients for the dressing. In less than 20 minutes, the recipe was assembled and ready for taste-testing.

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Students in Millbury, MA learned about whole grains through cooking.

All 13 students were willing to try the recipe. The students were excited to learn new skills, try new foods, and were eager to bring the recipe home to their families!

Unsure of how to get started cooking with whole grains in your school? Check out the John C. Stalker Institute’s Back to Basics: Whole Grains workshop resources. Also visit the Recipes and Menus page at the JSI Resource Center for ideas.

For more tools and ideas for working with your school’s wellness policy, visit the School Wellness Initiative and Policies page at the JSI Resource Center and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website.

~ blog provided by Amanda Meisner, FSU Food and Nutrition student