Milton Public Schools Race to Healthy Eating with MyPlate

Milton Public Schools (MPS) view nutrition education as an important component to student learning. As outlined in the school’s wellness policy, nutrition education is designed to foster lifelong healthy eating behaviors and to reduce incidence of obesity.  One way the school incorporates nutrition education is through a partnership with Framingham State University’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics.  Dietetic interns design and teach a variety of nutrition classes to elementary, middle and high school students.  In an effort to start all students off with a strong nutrition foundation, dietetic interns teach all MPS third grade students the MyPlate basics.

Katie Badger, Graduate Student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics educating students about MyPlate.

This spring, Framingham State University Dietetic Graduate Student Katie Badger, introduced third graders at Collicot and Cunningham Elementary School to MyPlate through a lesson called MyPlate – A Race to Healthy Eating. Launched with a dance party to the “Alive with Five” song, the interactive lesson plan highlighted the importance of physical activity.  A PowerPoint presentation provided visuals for the students as they learned about the benefit of each food group.  As students eagerly shared their favorite foods from each group, a list was generated on the blank MyPlate poster shown here. Students then demonstrated what they had learned during a team relay.  Using a plate and laminated food and exercise pictures, each team raced to assemble a complete meal, including a form of exercise. This fun and interactive nutrition lesson taught students the importance of eating food from all five food groups and highlighted the importance of being active for at least 60 minutes every day. 

Nutrition education lessons can take on many forms and be adapted for any age group. But there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  A variety of lesson plans, handouts and other nutrition resources are available on the The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition website.

Submitted by: Katie Badger, Graduate Student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics


Framingham High School Students Take on the New Nutrition Label

It’s important to give high school students the right tools to select foods that promote a healthy lifestyle. The Framingham Public Schools’ Wellness Policy also recognizes the importance of health and wellness, especially for students to take full advantage of their education.

In April 2017, Framingham State University Coordinated Program intern, Jaquelyn Litwak, taught high school “Foods 1” students about updates to the Nutrition Facts Label, which is set to be implemented by 2020. After discussing what students should look for on a nutrition label, Jacquelyn discussed major differences to the new nutrition labels, notably regarding fat and

Jaquelyn Litwak, FSU Food and Nutrition Student in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics, teaching about the Nutrition Facts Label.

added sugar. Students also reported how often they drink sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts. Next, the group discussed the differences among the three types of fat and compared natural sugars to added sugars. Finally, students were presented with information about the potential health consequences of consuming too much saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars.

After the interactive lesson on the new nutrition label, students worked in groups and played Jeopardy to test their knowledge on the discussion and general nutrition. Providing students with up-to-date information on nutrition empowers them up to make healthy choices more often as they continue to grow and succeed. Framingham Public Schools provides students with nutrition information about the food served, so students can make informed meal choices.

To find other lesson plans for use in grades K-12 visit The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition’s Resource Center.

Submitted by: Jaquelyn Litwak, FSU Food and Nutrition Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

Andover High School Students Build Better Snacks with MyPlate

Andover Public Schools’ Nutrition program realizes that good nutrition and learning go hand in hand. However, convincing high school students to consume well-balanced snacks to help fuel their busy schedules can be challenging. The district’s Wellness Policy states that a healthy intake of food and nutrients is essential for students to take full advantage of the learning environment in school. In support of this policy, Framingham State University Dietetic Graduate student Meredith French taught ninth graders how to create better snacks using MyPlate in April 2018.

Examples of smarter snack options created by Andover High School students.

The lesson began by reviewing the MyPlate concept and its application to snack foods. Snacks should include items such as whole grains, low or fat-free dairy, and be comprised of two different food groups for a balanced, satiating snack.  Students were given tip-sheets with smart-snacking ideas, and then participated in a five-station activity, where each station contained six food images belonging to one food group.

In groups, students were required to classify the food items at each station as ‘smarter’ snacks or ‘sometimes’ snacks, based on their knowledge of MyPlate and using the tip sheet. For example, a smarter snack in the protein group included hummus, while a sometimes snack included fried chicken wings. Students used a worksheet to record the smarter snacks at each station and took it home for future reference when snacking.

After completing the activity, each student identified three smarter snack combinations that they would enjoy eating. Several students shared their selections with the group. Combinations included carrot sticks with hummus and low-fat cheese with whole grain crackers.

For more information on improving wellness and nutrition education in schools, visit The John Stalker Institute’s Resource Center.

Submitted by: Meredith French, Graduate Student in the FSU Coordinated Program of Dietetics.

Students at Milton Public Schools Explore the Five Friendly Fuels of MyPlate

FSU Dietetic Intern, Alexandra Sanchez, introduced all third-graders at Glover and Tucker Elementary Schools to the five friendly fuels of MyPlate.

Milton Public Schools is dedicated to raising the bar for student nutrition by building better menus that meet school nutrition guidelines and promote healthy habits for lifelong nutrition and fitness practices. The Wellness Policy focuses on improving student health and sharing the message of nutrition and wellness among students and school constituents. In order to optimize nutrition education, the school’s Food Service Department has partnered with the Framingham State University Food and Nutrition Coordinated Program to have student dietitians provide nutrition education lessons to all Milton Public School students.

This fall, Framingham State University Dietetic Graduate Student, Alexandra Sanchez, introduced all third-graders at Glover and Tucker Elementary Schools to the five friendly fuels of MyPlate. Students learned about the importance of eating foods from the five food groups for optimal health.

Students explored the MyPlate food groups and healthy choices within each through fun, interactive activities including an “Alive with 5 Food Groups” song and a MyPlate hula hoop activity. After learning about the five friendly fuels through the song, students were given a food prop and asked to identify it and place it in the correct food group within a hula hoop MyPlate. Students also identified the five main food groups and one nutritious example from each, as well as planned a complete, balanced dinner using educational handouts such as the one shown here.

Students can use the information learned to identify the five MyPlate food groups and how to incorporate healthy choices from each into a well-balanced meal for optimal health and wellness.

Interested in including nutrition education lessons at your school? The John Stalker Institute is an excellent one-stop hub with lesson plans, handouts, and other nutrition resources from credible, knowledgeable sources to help meet the initiatives of your school’s wellness policy.

Submitted by: Alexandra Sanchez, Graduate Student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Andover High School Students Wake-Up with Breakfast

Getting high school students to eat breakfast is important but it’s not always an easy task. The Andover Public Schools’ Wellness Policy recognizes that in order for students to take full advantage of the school learning environment, they must have a healthy intake of food and nutrients.

In November, 2017, Framingham State University Coordinated Program dietetic intern Rebecca Rand taught ninth grade health students how to “Power Up With Breakfast.” Some of the reasons for skipping breakfast included not having time, not being hungry, and that putting food in their stomach was too early in the morning.  Students who did eat breakfast shared some of the foods they eat at home or during school breakfast.  The lesson covered the importance of breakfast after not eating since the prior evening, what a breakfast trio is, and taught students how to build one.  A healthy breakfast includes foods from three of the five food groups.

FSU Dietetic intern, Rebecca Rand leading “Power Up with Breakfast” for Andover High School students.

After brainstorming as a class, each student used a worksheet to build five of their own breakfast trios, one for each day of the week.  Students also came up with some grab and go options; such as a cheese stick, yogurt, a hardboiled egg, or a piece of fruit and added them to their worksheets. Each student went home with the worksheet they created to put on their refrigerator for reference when looking for breakfast ideas.

For more information and resources on School Breakfast Programs and improving nutrition and wellness in Massachusetts schools, visit the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University Resource Center.

Submitted by: Rebecca Rand, FSU graduate Food and Nutrition student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

Dedham Public Schools Explore Different Fruits and Vegetables

FSU intern, Jesse Busa, presenting “Taste the Rainbow” to Avery Middle School in Dedham, MA.

Providing students at Dedham Public Schools with nutrition education “to select a diet that supports health and reduces risk of illness and future chronic diseases” is a critical component of their wellness policy. To help achieve this goal, the district works closely with Framingham State University’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics to have interns bring nutrition focused learning into the classroom.

Graduate Student Dietetic Interns, Jesse Busa and Erin Anseth collaboratively presented “Taste the Rainbow” to first and second graders at the Avery Middle School throughout the month of November 2017. The focus of the lesson was to convey simple health benefits associated with each color of fruits and vegetables in addition to the role of nutrients and diet variety.

The students then used the information they learned as well as their drawing and writing skills to make their own book. The lesson ended with a quick game of fruit and vegetable freeze tag testing their ability to recall the names of different colored fruits and vegetables.

Want to bring more nutrition programs into the classroom? The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University has created lesson plans for grades K-12 – check it out! For information on school wellness initiatives and policies click here, and for other nutrition education resources please visit the JSI Resource Center.

Submitted by: Jesse Busa, Graduate Student in the FSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Fast Food Nutrition Breakdown at Hanover High School

Hanover Public Schools’ Wellness Policy recognizes that nutrition education is essential to promote student wellness and the development of lifelong healthy habits. In support of this policy, Samantha Therrien, Graduate student of the Framingham State University Coordinated Program in Dietetics, taught ninth and tenth graders in a Wellness class at Hanover High School on Monday, December 4, 2017.

FSU intern, Samantha Therrien, leading the “Fast Food Nutrition Breakdown” at Hanover Public Schools

The lesson, Fast Food Nutrition Breakdown, began with a pre-assessment activity called cross the line to get students up and moving. During this activity, students lined up on one side of the room and were asked to cross an imaginary line in the center of the room if they agreed with the statements read aloud. This activity got students moving and thinking about nutrition as they walked back and forth in agreement with the nutrition statements being read.

Following the activity was a lecture on the nutritional content of popular fast food items including discussions about saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium. This lecture delved into some of the science of why these nutrients/ingredients are problematic when consumed in excess. During the lecture students calculated the number of teaspoons of added sugar in popular beverage choices among teens. Three volunteers were invited to the front of the room to measure out the calculated amounts of added sugars into clear cups, which were then passed around for all students to see.

Finally, students were allowed to use their phones to research the nutritional content of their favorite/typical fast food meal order, as well as healthier substitute items. After completing this activity a discussion revealed its impact. Many students were shocked to see that their fast food meals exceeded the recommended daily limits for saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. In the final minutes of the class, students shared their ideas for healthier substitute food items when eating fast food, which included swapping water for sugary beverages and packing fruit or ordering a side salad instead of French fries.

To find other lesson plans for use in grades K-12 visit The John Stalker Institute’s Resource Center.

Submitted by: Samantha Therrien, FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

Dedham Public Schools Inspire Ideas for Healthy Snacks

Dedham Public Schools believes that nutrition education should be a part of the core curriculum.  According to the district’s wellness policy, the goal of nutrition education is to give students knowledge and the tools they will need to select foods that promote a healthy lifestyle.  To support this goal, Framingham State University (FSU) interns from the Coordinated Program in Dietetics taught fourth graders at Oakdale Elementary School about the importance of eating healthy snacks.

To introduce the topic, students were asked to think about their favorite athlete, and to think about what he/she eats in order to get ready for practice or a game.  Students then described which foods support health and performance and which foods do not.  All content was connected back to the students needing healthy foods to help them be successful in the classroom and on the playground.  A discussion of MyPlate and the five food groups built the basis for understanding how to build a healthy snack.

On the left, the student made “The Birthday Smoothie”. On the right, this student simply put together grapes and cheese.

For an activity,  students created their own healthy snacks using at least two components of MyPlate.  Students enthusiastically created original snacks by drawing and naming them.  Then students described the ingredients, explained how to make their snack, and came up with a marketing pitch or slogan to get consumers to want to buy their snacks.  To conclude the lesson, students eagerly shared their creations with the rest of the class!

For more resources on school wellness policies and ideas for lessons and educational materials for a variety nutrition-related health topics, visit the John C. Stalker (JSI) Resource Center and the Wellness Solution for MA websites.

Submitted by: Erin Anseth, FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics.