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We are all able to make a positive difference in the health destinies of our children simply by taking the right kind of action. Raising awareness and talking to others about supporting healthy eating initiatives is a valuable first step. Here there are some tips on how you can initiate a food based program within your community, as well as tips on how to successfully teach food based skills to children within a classroom environment.

Initiating a Food Based Program

We need to re-think the curriculum and have food and nutrition as a central concern. The school lunch program can, and should, be a program that celebrates the importance nutrients play in our physical, mental, and emotional lives. There are few things as important to our over-all education and future.

What You Can Do

  • 1. Eat lunch in a school cafeteria. Observe how children move through the lines, what the noise level is, and how much time the children are given to eat. Be sure to make arrangements with the principal before doing this and do it as a way to familiarize yourself with the realities involved in mealtimes rather than as a way to criticize.

2. Determine what level of choice is given to the child for the meal.

  • 3. Identify other people in your community who may want to work with you to improve child nutrition. Get together with them and come up with a plan that is positive in nature. Outline a course of action that may begin with a PTA presentation, the formation of a nutrition advisory committee, or volunteers to work in the classroom to educate students about nutritious foods.

4. Consider being trained by the Food Studies Institute to become a certified Food Educator. After receiving this three-day training, you will be able to offer a 28 unit curriculum, called Food Is Elementary, to students. Children will get excited about eating nutritious foods once they have been educated about them in a positive, hands-on, sensory way.

5. Work with the Food Studies Institute to obtain grants to teach students about food and nutrition. Food Is Elementary has been successfully implemented in more than 450 schools across the nation. Develop a visible program in your community so that educators and parents can see the benefits of this approach.

6. Work with food service and include them in any educational effort you may do.

7. Document what you have done so that you can share it with others. Always remember to be positive and not political in your dealings with schools.

8. Give children unbiased nutrition information that is not influenced by the food industry, so they can make their own informed choices.

9. Don't give up! This is extremely important work and can greatly improve the lives of children.

 Cooking with Kids: Guidelines for Classroom Teachers and Volunteers

  

Enjoy this experience -  it is a time for fun and exploration!

Practical Issues

  • Plan the lesson: coordinate the new food with science, math, social studies and other cultures.
  • Make a list of materials in advance
  • Purchase the materials in advance: confirm who is responsible for buying what and how it will be paid for.
  • Equipment: learn what school materials you may use and what you will need to supply. Make no assumptions.
  • Time: approximately one hour is recommended for each class
  • Plan the activities so that everyone has something to do.
  • Wash hands before the cooking begins. Discuss the reasons for cleanliness when cooking.
  • Discuss safety issues before cutting.

Creating a Positive Learning Experience

  • Respect the fact that children are naturally open and curious. We first learn about the world through our senses. All of our senses are involved in cooking and sensual learning needs to be encouraged.
  • Assume that all children are capable and eager to learn. Cooking is fun and exciting for most children. Let children experiment.
  • Talk together about feelings. Everyone is participating and it is rude to insult anyone's efforts. The 'No Yuck' rule: if you really don't like something, don't say 'yuck'; think of something positive to say or don't say anything.
  • Assure the children that tasting is voluntary. No child should ever be forced to try a food if they don't want to.
  • Create a dialogue with the children rather than lecturing. Ask for their opinions. Engage in discussion.
  • Don't dictate information. Ask questions, brainstorm ideas, and let them come up with the answers.
  • Introduce tools and foods one at a time. Let the children hold, smell and taste, if appropriate. Encourage questions of any kind.
  • Emphasize the importance of visual presentation. We 'eat with our eyes' as well as our mouths.
  • Talk about cultural relativism when appropriate; i.e. that many people of the world think that it is bizarre that we drink cow's milk, and to consider this when learning about foods that we consider unusual. Encourage all of the class not to judge others and to our examine preferences and why we eat the way we do.
  • Clean up is the responsibility of the entire group. Cooperation is needed to ensure that the project is successful.
  • Do not express your personal bias about food. Encourage children to try all kinds of food.
  • Avoid promoting a special diet. Words like vegetarian, vegan, and organic should only be used in cultural context, if at all.
  • Always be positive and never be judgmental.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 10:47

 

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