The school garden at Lacoochee Elementary School allows students to do hands-on gardening after school. Last Wednesday their weekly Garden Club meeting was supplemented with a lesson on healthy eating. Team Nutrition met with the group of second and third grade students to talk about MyPlate and had activities that focused on fruits and vegetables. The session was led by Catherine Villegas, a University of South Florida Public Health graduate student and a Team Nutrition intern. When asked to give her thoughts on the experience she stated, “Well my career goal is to be a Health Educator so this opportunity was a great experience especially because it gave me the chance to work with a younger audience.”
Ms. Villegas started the session by asking, “Who can tell me all five food groups?” One girl responded by listing off each food group, “Dairy, protein, grains, fruits and vegetables.” “That’s right and looking at MyPlate you all can see that half your plate should be fruits and vegetables” Ms. Villegas said while holding a MyPlate poster. To help the students better understand why eating fruits and vegetables is important for their bodies, Andy (a doll that houses organ “characters”) was given center stage. Ms. Villegas told the students that fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals, fiber and water- which are all helpful to Peri Stolic (the intestines) and the Kidney Brothers (Sid and Kid Kidney) in doing their jobs.
Each student was given a MyPlate sheet and asked to fill in a few of their favorite fruits and vegetables which prepared them for the game that came next. Crazy Colors was the name of the game and naming fruits and vegetables in the colors of the rainbow was the aim! For three minutes the two teams competed by thinking up and filling in a chart with names of fruits and vegetables in shades of green, white, red, yellow/orange and blue/purple. The winning team members received a sticker featuring an OrganWise Guys character and a health message like “5-A-Day” and “Eat lots of Fruit.” Ms. Villegas emphasized that just like the game, students should try to eat a rainbow of colors.
As she concluded Ms. Villegas provided some activities for each student to take home- a fruits and vegetables word search and a veggie dice . “I want to encourage all of you to share something you learned about fruits and vegetables with your family” Ms. Villegas challenged each of the students. When asked about the purpose of giving the take home activities, Ms. Villegas commented,“We hope that by providing materials for them to take home that focus on fruits and vegetables, that maybe it will spark families to be mindful of eating more fruits and vegetables.” Students were offered a snack of fruits and vegetables before heading out to the garden to do some planting and weeding.
To learn more about the resources available through Team Nutrition, visit their website.
Guest Blogger: Raneitra Grover, MPH, Team Nutrition Coordinator, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services