Top 10 Tips for Working with Your Local Extension on Nutrition Education

Healthy Food Choices in Schools August 15, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF

Cooperative Extension (also called Agricultural Extension) is a nationwide resource that brings research-based, practical information and classes to the public. There are Extension offices in every state and territory. Here are some ways Extension can help you.

GETTING STARTED

  1. Find out if your school currently works with Extension. Contact your school’s principal or office personnel. Ask if Extension provides nutrition programs. Programs may be delivered through 4-H which is a part of Extension.
  2. If your school doesn't currently work with Extension, find your local Extension office and see what programs and resources they have available. See the link below to find your local Extension office. Your local Extension office may also have a Facebook page or other social media links.

RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS

  1.  Are you looking for student handouts that can be used in nutrition and health classes? Extension may be able to help you. Ask your local Extension office about materials available from their office or online. There may be a nominal fee for some materials
  2.  “Show Me Nutrition” curriculum logo Some Extension offices provide trained nutrition educators that teach nutrition in the classroom. These educators use materials that meet National Health Education Standards and state education standards, competencies or grade level expectations. An example of this is the University of Missouri’s “Show Me Nutrition” curriculum for pre-K through 8th grade.
  3. If you are looking for nutrition education curricula that teachers can use, classroom activities or ways to incorporate physical activity in the classroom your local Extension office may have these resources.  For example, the University of Missouri Extension provides educational displays for teachers. They are designed to assist teachers who take the information from the displays into the classroom and share it with their students.
  4. Your local Extension office may have programs and resources to support your school garden either during the school year or in the summer. Ask if school gardening programs and curricula or volunteers called Master Gardeners are available.
  5. If your school is interested in developing food system or Farm to School Initiatives, contact your local Extension office and see if programs and other resources are available to teach students about the source of their food and the connection to agriculture. Your local Extension office may be able to connect your school to local food sources for these programs.

SCHOOL WELLNESS

  1. Extension has been involved in working with schools to design and implement school wellness policies for many years. Your local office may be able to provide programs or resources that support staff wellness. When staff make healthy choices they are better able to be role models that promote healthy behaviors to students.
  2. An important part of school wellness is connecting what is taught in the classroom to what is offered in your school’s cafeteria. Ask if your local Extension office can help you connect classroom lessons about healthy food choices to food choices offered at schools.
  3. If your school food service is interested in exploring ways to promote healthy food choices to your students ask your local Extension office what they can do. They may be able to help you implement evidence-based tools from the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement that will improve student food choices.

If something is not on the list above, contact your local Extension office to see if they have the resources to help you. Remember that each Extension office offers a different array of resources and classes. Contact your local Extension office to see if they have the resources to assist you.


Contributor:

Ellen Schuster, MS, RD, University of Missouri Extension

For more information:

Link to find your local Extension office www.extension.org

Link to educational displays  extension.missouri.edu/fnep/nutritiondisplays/index.htm

Link to Smarter Lunchrooms Movement smarterlunchrooms.org/

 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.