Studies have shown that when kids have the opportunity to take part in hands-on gardening and nutrition education is coupled with it, then those kids are likely to have better attitudes about eating healthy foods. For students in the Garden Club at Veterans Elementary School, last Wednesday marked their final, weekly nutrition education session where they learned all about healthy, balanced eating. Veterans Elementary School was one of two elementary school sites that partnered with Team Nutrition for ongoing nutrition education sessions through their afterschool Garden Club. The other school was Lacoochee Elementary. Team Nutrition is a grant initiative that aims to address school health environments with a particular emphasis on school meals, nutrition education and physical activity.

The students at the VES Garden Club hold up their completed MyPlate sheets.

Students at the VES Garden Club hold up their completed MyPlate sheets.

Each week a different food group was the focus and students learned how each of the food groups provide specific nutrients to their body. The learning also included fun activities and games where students applied their nutrition knowledge. For example, in teams, students raced to name fruits and vegetables in the colors of the rainbow. During the grain week, they competed against each other to determine which grain foods were whole grains and which were refined grains. When it was time to talk about protein, students were charged with the task of helping Dean Protein (a character who is a chicken leg with beans as hair and wearing a ham steak and hard boiled egg for a hat while holding a bowl of peanuts) sort through food items and had to place only those foods which were sources of protein in Dean’s cart. The week that focused on dairy allowed some creative juices to flow as students put together a song about dairy and learned that it provides Vitamin D and Calcium. In the end, the students were MyPlate Champions: equipped with an understanding of fueling their bodies with foods from each food group and demonstrating their ability to “Eat Smart to Play Hard!”

To learn more about Team Nutrition in the state of Florida, click here.

Guest Blogger: Raneitra Grover, MPH, Team Nutrition Coordinator, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services