Eat It Up: Afterschool Program Resources

nutrition ed

Afterschool hours can provide an opportunity to work with young people in a more informal setting than during the school day. Educators and afterschool program coordinators can offer experiences and teach life skills that youth may not achieve through other means.  Afterschool programs allow youth to learn how to become leaders, meet new people, and develop new skills.

This list of afterschool resources is by no means exhaustive but the resources have been used successfully and follow research-based education models.  Afterschool programs provide positive youth development; positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults, activities that build important life skills, and opportunities for youth to use these skills as participants and leaders in valued community activities.  Often these resources also utilize Experiential Learning Theory which provides hands-on learning opportunities.  Thereby educators and coordinators who work with afterschool youth know they are getting valid resources to use with youth.

Please note that some of these resources are free while others have a cost associated with them.

Healthy Living: Cooking, Nutrition, Fitness

Organization: 4-H National Council, Cooperative Extension

Curriculum: 4-H Food & Healthy Living Curricula

The National 4-H Council provides a series of curricula aimed at teaching youth “healthier lifestyle through a holistic approach to emotional, social, and physical health.” The curricula include cooking, food safety, physical education and many other subjects. These curricula are available for sale at

Organization: University of Maryland Extension

Curriculum: Nutrition Nuggets Curriculum

The Nutrition Nuggets curriculum was created for youth in the out of school/afterschool setting. It contains 12 units on subjects including MyPlate and food groups, handwashing, the importance of breakfast, choosing healthy snacks, and creating healthy meals. This curriculum is available here for free.

Organization: Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Tennessee

Curriculum: Hands On Real-World Lessons for Middle School Classrooms

The Hands On Curriculum is designed to teach middle school students about food safety while meeting Common Core Standards in Math and Language Arts and state mandated curriculum standards science and social studies. The curricula are available online for free but supplies are needed for implementation. Information on getting started can be found here.

More about the curriculum:

Organization: PBS and the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University

Curriculum: In Defense of Food Curriculum

The In Defense of Food Curriculum is designed to teach adolescents practical tools for healthier eating including why it’s important to eat healthfully and the role of food companies in food decision making.

The full curriculum PDF is available for download for free through the resources page of the PBS In Defense of Food website

More about the curriculum:

Organization: Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University

Curriculum: Food Day Curriculum

The Food Day Curriculum is designed for upper elementary and middle school students. It consists of 5 lessons focusing on eating real, fresh food, cutting back on processed foods, and advocating for a healthier community. The curriculum is free and available here.

More about the curriculum:

Organization: ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School

Curriculum: Healthy Kids Out of School Curriculum

The Healthy Kids Out of School Curriculum is specifically designed for afterschool youth programs. It consists of over seven sessions of nutrition and physical activity lessons. This curriculum is free and available for download here.

Organization: USDA

Curriculum: Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum

The USDA provides materials for use to help teach nutrition concepts and eating healthier as they learn about MyPlate. All materials are free and available here.

Organization: Dairy Council of California

Curriculum: My Very Own Pizza

Aimed at grades K-6, My Very Own Pizza is an online activity that incorporates history and nutrition information with a virtual pizza making game. This online game is available here for free.

Curriculum: MyPlate Matching Game

The MyPlate Matching Game is designed for grades K-6. It is an interactive online tool designed to help children test their food group knowledge. This online game is available here for free.

Curriculum: Power Up Your Breakfast

The Power Up Your Breakfast game is designed for transitional kindergarten through second grade students and can take up to 10 minutes. In the game, students build a healthy breakfast by clicking and dragging foods from a virtual kitchen to put on their breakfast plate with the 3 out of 5 concept. This online game is available here for free.

More about Power up Your Breakfast:

Curriculum: Activity & Eating (for parents)

Parents are the most important influence in their children’s lives – and that includes food and physical activity choices. This resource is relevant for someone just starting out or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Offers action steps to make balanced food choices from MyPlate food groups and add physical activity into daily routines. This is an eight-page, self-instructional nutrition booklet. All activities and resources are available here.

Curriculum: Physical Activity Journal

This Physical Activity Journal is a tool to help you get a more complete picture of your exercise and activity habits. Once you have that picture you can set your fitness goals. The free journal activity is available for download here.

Organization: Cooking Matters

Curriculum: Cooking Matters Educational Tools

Cooking Matters Is a six-week cooking, shopping and nutrition course that has a powerful, sustained impact that is significantly greater than changes that would have occurred without an intervention. All of the educational tools are free and available here.


Organization: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Curriculum: Junior Master Gardener Program

The Junior Master Gardener program provides gardening and nutrition education resources for youth. The newest curriculum Learn, Eat, Grow and Go! combines gardening, nutrition and culinary lessons and has demonstrated positive behavior change. The curriculum is available for purchase here.

More about afterschool school gardens:

Organization: Ag in the Classroom

Curriculum: National Agriculture in the Classroom Materials

Ag in the Classroom materials can be searched using your state’s site, which oftentimes provides more specific materials for your location. They teach about gardening, agricultural commodities, plant science, etc. Materials are available for purchase here.

Resources for Program Leaders


Candice Sainz, Dairy Council of California

Joi Vogin, Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE), University of Maryland Extension

Katie Baildon, Cornell University

Michelle Krehbiel, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Vanessa Spero-Swingle, University of Florida