The past two days I’ve been working with younger children from preschool to first grade. Yesterday we also talked to some parents about the importance of family meals- for nutrition, social support, and other reasons.
Today, still in Baltimore, I was presented a new challenge: middle schoolers. Fortunately it went very well, although I was wiped out at the end of the day, it was fun! It is so interesting to see the big differences with each grade, even just between 6th and 7th graders, developmentally and behaviorally.
We did 3 classes: 8th grade, 7th grade, and then 6th grade. Each lesson started out with calculating the teaspoon equivalents of fat in fast food items (represented by shortening), and teaspoon equivalents of sugar in beverages (represented by salt). We said that 4 grams=1 tsp, so they could figure out the grams of fat/sugar in each item and go from there. It was pretty effective in terms of shock value. One girl was looking through the booklet with all the nutrition info for fast food restaurants, and said, “Wow, I want to show my mom,” which prompted the nutrition educator and I to find her a booklet to take home! If that’s the only impact we made today- to spark that girl to start thinking about nutrition in a way she hadn’t before- then our work was worth it. Definitely.
After that activity, we made a healthier fast food option: chicken fajitas on whole grain tortillas with TONS of veggies: onions, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, squash, and tomato. We got out the portable grill and made it right there in the classroom, with everyone helping out by chopping veggies, stirring, flipping, or setting up plates.
So sad that this was my last day for FSNE! I’ll never forget it- I learned so much about teaching for different audiences, and it will definitely help me in my future career. The nutrition educators I got to work with were fantastic and really inspiring! It reminded me of why I love community nutrition.