Webster Elementary School Students Rethink Their Drinks

The Webster Public School district is committed to promoting and protecting children’s health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. To help support this goal, Framingham State University (FSU) dietetic intern, Karen O’Hare, presented Rethink Your Drink! to the third and fourth graders at Park Ave Elementary School in March and

FSU dietetic intern, Karen O’Hare (right), leading a Rethink Your Drink! lesson for Park Ave Elementary School students.

April 2018. This interactive lesson helped students visualize the amount of sugar in common sugar-sweetened beverages.

The third and fourth grade gym classes learned the difference between natural and added sugars, how to locate sugar on the nutrition facts label, and how to calculate the amount of sugar, in teaspoons, in a beverage. Then, students worked in groups to determine the amount of sugar in beverages such as chocolate milk, sweetened iced tea, soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and energy drinks.

Once the activity was complete, the groups shared their findings with the class. The students were surprised to learn that some of their favorite beverages far exceed the amount of added sugar recommended for children. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of a popular lemonade drink has 17 teaspoons of sugar compared to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommendation that children should limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons per day!

AHA infographic, “Healthy Kids are Sweet Enough.”

For more resources on sugar solutions for schools, visit the JSI Resource Center for additional information and lesson plans on sugar, added sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

Submitted by: Karen O’Hare,  FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

Serving Up MyPlate at Webster Public Schools

FSU Student Dietitian, Tori Leger, leading the “Serving Up MyPlate” lesson to fourth graders at Park Avenue Elementary School.

The Webster Public School District is dedicated to promoting the overall health and well-being of their K-12 students, particularly by supporting the development and maintenance of healthy eating and exercise habits. To further teach, encourage, and foster balanced nutrition and physical activity among students, Webster Public Schools have teamed up with Framingham State University’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics. Through this partnership, student dietitians develop and implement nutrition education lessons based on the interests and needs of Webster Public School students.

During the months of March and April 2018, Graduate Student Dietitian Tori Leger presented “Serving Up MyPlate” to fourth grade students at Park Avenue Elementary School. Students learned about the five main food groups, contents of each food group, and the importance of combining foods from all five food groups to create healthy, balanced meals that contain a variety of nutrients.

Students were provided with paper plates and colored pencils, and were encouraged to draw their own MyPlate. During this interactive coloring activity, students brainstormed foods that could fit into the five food groups and discussed how a complete meal could be created from these food items.  In addition, the composition of school lunch was discussed in terms of the MyPlate model to expand understanding of current dietary recommendations. Students were encouraged to try and incorporate at least three of the five food groups into each meal to get a variety of beneficial nutrients every day. By the end of the lesson, the students were excited to take their drawings home and begin practicing the MyPlate method!

To learn more about incorporating nutrition education into the classroom for K-12 students, visit The John Stalker Institute Resource Center.

Submitted by: Tori Leger, Graduate Student Dietitian, Framingham State University Coordinated Program in Dietetics

The Milton Public School’s Girls Athletic Teams are Fueled for Success!

Milton Public Schools, in Milton, MA has an extensive Wellness Policy which includes the promotion of healthy nutrition habits and daily physical activity.  In keeping with this goal, the district welcomes dietetic interns from Framingham State University’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics each semester.  The interns share their nutrition knowledge with students at all levels across the district.

Johanna Cohan, FSU graduate Food and Nutrition student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics teaching athletes how to fuel up for top performance.

This spring, the Milton High School girl’s lacrosse and track and field teams benefitted from this alliance with a lesson entitled “Fuel Up for Top Performance in Athletics and Life.”  During this lesson, Johanna Cohan, Framingham State graduate student, exposed the athletes to proper fueling techniques for top performance in games and meets.


The lesson allowed the girls to see how adequate fueling actually begins long before the event; typically, 24 hours prior, and doesn’t end until hours after the event.  This fueling method sets athletes up with sufficient energy stores for their event and for the next day’s work out.  During the lesson, the athletes brainstormed fueling strategies and a timeline to allow the entire group to learn some new ideas from their teammates.

Following the presentation, the athletes took part in a “Family Feud” style game, testing their sports fueling knowledge.  Their competitive edge was on display, as they showed that they were on their way to proper fueling for athletics and life.

It’s easy to add nutrition education into your daily lesson plans. You can find success stories from teachers who have done so at the Wellness Solutions blog.  There are many ideas to get you started at the John Stalker Institute website.  Make fueling for life a priority in your classroom.

Submitted by: Johanna Cohan, FSU graduate Food and Nutrition student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics


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.