Summer Nutrition Education: Week 1

This week was our first week of summer nutrition education with two of our local partners.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we have a lesson in the W&L Campus Garden with participants of the Y Summer camp.  On Tuesday and Thursday, we have a lesson with the participants of Summer Fun, which is a summer  program that’s put on by the Lexington City Office on Youth.  The nutrition education program will run for 8 weeks and will introduce children in kindergarten through fifth grade to different topics that are related to nutrition and gardening.

The first lesson focused on MyPlate, which is the current nutrition guide that is published by the US Department of Agriculture.  It replaces the food pyramid that many of us grew up with, with its prescribed servings of each food group per day.  Instead of focusing on how many servings we should have of each food group per day, it emphasizes the fact that we should be trying to make every meal balanced and healthy, and trying to eat a variety of foods at each meal.

During this lessons, campers colored their own copy of my MyPlate, and talked about all 5 of the food groups on it–fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.  Fruits and vegetables tend to be easy, especially since most everyone has a favorite, but talking about different sources of grains and proteins can be a bit more challenging.  In order to make the lesson more fun and interactive, we put out an array of plastic food that contained everything from asparagus and broccoli to pizza and ice cream, and asked the campers to find items from all the different categories.

From a behind-the-scenes planning perspective, it was really exciting (and a little terrifying!) to watch something that I’ve been working on and planning for months finally become something real and tangible.  I can plan and over-plan all I want, but it was hard to anticipate how things would work in actuality.  I’ve been developing the curriculum for months now, but it’s only in beginning to work with the children and actually teach it, that I can get a real sense of how it works. There were a few small hiccups this week–mostly thanks to nature.  Rain is nice, but not when it sends you scrambling for alternate plans on the first day of nutrition education in the garden!  As a whole, the first week was a success, and I look forward to next week, when we’re talking about one of my favorite vegetables.  This vegetable is one that donkeys love to eat, is rich in fiber and beta-carotene and was once used to make butter a more appealing color.  Can anyone guess what vegetable we’re going to be working with?