Children usually look forward to classroom parties filled with sweet treats and sugary beverages. But this year thanks to Nutrition in Action, the Dickinson Elementary holiday party was filled with fresh fruit and yogurt at the students’ requests! Nutrition in Action is helping today’s children learn lifelong healthy habits to grow into tomorrow’s strong and healthy leaders.
Nutrition in Action uses a whole school approach to encourage healthy eating habits and promote physical activity to children in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Newaygo Counties. Nutrition educators teach a six lesson nutrition education series to students in kindergarten through twelfth grades. The lessons are offered weekly and are about 60 minutes long. Each lesson includes a nutrition activity, a movement activity and a tasting component.
Nutrition in Action students take a survey that measures behavior change after completing the program. The survey is designed to identify positive change in the following:
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
- Being more physically active
- Choosing healthier snacks
- Eating healthy foods more often
For example, one question asks students to indicate the number of days they ate fruits and vegetables before and after the six nutrition lessons.
Ms. Williams’ class just completed their 6 week Nutrition in Action series. On the last day, the instructor took a poll of the students to see who has tried something new during the 6 week course. Nineteen out of twenty-three children (83%) raised their hand. This was a clear indication that our goal of getting students to eat more healthy foods was accomplished.
Students participating in physical activity lessons through Nutrition in Action are evaluated using the Get Active Daily Survey (GAD). This survey is administered to students at the beginning of the program and at the end. The pre-survey asked only one question, “How many of the last four days did you use some of your free time to be physically active?” Students select a range of 0-4. The post survey asks students the same question.
“I thought this was going to taste weird, but it was really good and it makes me want to try it at home with some different vegetables that I like that are healthy.”
- Alvina, 5th grader at Buchanan Elementary School talking about Veggie Sushi (spinach, carrots, wheat tortilla, cheese, broccoli, yogurt based ranch)
The program was launched in 2006. It is funded by the USDA/Michigan Nutrition Network, and serves more than 15,900 vulnerable children across 20 school districts each school year.
This program is funded through the USDA SNAP-Ed program. For more information, contact Nancy Maiquez, Youth Development Senior Program Director, 616-855-9679.