Extending the learning environment beyond the classroom is a great way to engage students with hands-on activities and fresh perspectives and you don’t have to leave the school grounds to provide students with valuable hands-on nutrition education! The food service professionals at your school play a daily role in students’ nutrition. They are a key resource as they incorporate national nutrition guidelines as well as students’ preferences when planning menus. Nutrition education is about more than reading labels, and food service professionals can offer students insights into selecting, preparing, and enjoying healthy foods. Furthermore, students can learn to see the lunchroom as a place to practice healthy eating rather than a place to indulge between classes.
Let’s Go!, a program designed to combat childhood obesity, offers some ideas of educational activities that involve the lunchroom and food service staff. Lessons geared towards young children, like “Eat Your Way Though the Rainbow,” aim to provide a connection between the classroom and the lunchroom. Activities for middle school students include learning about portion sizes and basic nutrition lessons. For more nutrition lesson ideas, check out the following worksheets from Let’s Go!:
Also consider inviting the school nurse, health teacher, physical education teacher, or PTO/PTA members to guest teach in your classroom to give students more insights about the importance of good nutrition. The more areas of the school that embrace and teach healthy eating, the better students will understand how good nutrition impacts their whole life.
Katherine Baildon, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs
Let’s Go! “Cafeteria to Classroom Connection”
Let’s Go! “Cafeteria as Learning Lab”