National Nutrition Month is designed to help individuals make informed decisions on food choices and physical activity. The theme for National Nutrition Month 2022 is: Celebrate a World of Flavors, inspiring the acceptance and appreciation of global cuisine.
The variety of cultures throughout the world, in conjunction with the universal love and desire for good cuisine, presents a great opportunity for individuals all over the world to be exposed to different cultures. A variety of activities linking health, food choices, and cultures would be a realistic way to introduce these important topics to children. Celebrating National Nutrition Month in schools would extend this opportunity to children and expose them to information otherwise not taught in the curriculum.
Week One: Learning About Healthy Food Groups
The Dietary Guidelines states that nutrient dense foods fit into one’s cultural foods/traditions. Having students share a dish their family makes or food particular to their culture may help them embrace their culture and improve the empathy of their school community around “new” and “different” foods of their peers. Activities can include identifying how a family dish is related to the food groups or how to improve the health of certain dishes.
This would be an opportunity for students to learn about other cultures while also realizing their cultural-food practices.
Week Two: Seek Professional Assistance
Students may not realize people will seek nutritional advice from a licensed professional, such as a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN). Activities can include teachers inviting their food & nutrition director, cafeteria manager, or Family & Consumer Sciences Educator (including SNAP-Ed and EFNEP educator) to talk about professions in nutrition. Learn about professional goals around an individual or community’s health and how youth can share with their adult caregiver ways to find RDN’s and nutritionists through their health insurance provider.
Week Three- Planning Healthy Meals and Snacks
Students will have the opportunity to apply what they have learned over the past two weeks in a cultural and nutrient-dense meal or snack. This activity will be a reflection period in hopes of the students continuing their healthy food choices and cultural appreciation. Visit Myplate.gov or other local resources.
Week Four- Exploring the World Through the Classroom
The final part of National Nutrition Month ends with bringing your understanding of food, health, and cultures back home. This could include making a meal or snack inspired by another student’s culture, one inspired by information gathered from the RDN or nutritionist, and executing these meals or snacks at home. Trying diverse foods and following new health tips benefits students and their family. National Nutrition Month is an organized and interactive approach to implement strong values about health, food, and culture among students and their families.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2022). National Nutrition Month. EatRight. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). MyPlate. Are you making every bite count? Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.myplate.gov/
Shauna Henley, Ph.D., Family & Consumer Sciences Senior Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore County
Caroline Wernicki, University of Maryland Undergraduate