Many school lunch programs operate year round to serve students enrolled in summer school programs and to ensure that students in the community do not have to go without healthy meals. Summer meal programs are not generally as structured as those during the school year, which makes it an opportune time for the school nutrition department to team with classroom teachers to provide nutrition education.
Summer is a time for fun and games and Liverpool Central School District Dietitian, Lindsey LaDue, used age appropriate games to teach students basic nutrition principles. She first solicited information from teachers to determine what health/nutrition curriculum was being taught so that material could be found that complimented what the students were learning in class. The USDA School Nutrition and Team Nutrition websites were resources used to find materials for the games.
Younger students were taught the MyPlate principles though an activity that involved placing food cards on the correct spaces of a My Food Plate activity map. They also used food models to build their favorite meal and discussed how they could make that meal more balanced. They were also given the USDA Summer Food /Summer Move activity placemats to draw on.
Older students learned about caffeine, sugar and hydration using a prepared worksheet (Caffeine, Sugar, Hydration – Oh My!) including “guess the sugar” game using actual drink bottles. A Think Your Drink handout from the National Dairy Council was used to discuss which beverage choices are the most healthy and why. In addition, students were given a nutrition-focused bookmark and the USDA “Stay Cool with Summer Meals” Activity Guide for Families.
Feedback was positive on all levels. Teachers were thrilled to have another adult reinforce lessons to their students in an interactive, fun and informal manner. Students were engaged both intellectually and physically, not realizing that they were indeed learning while engaging in fun and games!
Annette C. Marchbanks, DTR, Director of School Nutrition, Liverpool Central School Districts