Gregory, 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