- Author: Haley Powers
- Contributor: Shawna Rogers
- Editor: Emily Harris
Fresno County's UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program has a long standing partnership with the Fresno State Dietetic Internship Program. This blog post is part of our Intern Reflections Series.
Days full of dancing with 5-year-olds to the “MyPlate Shaky,” having kids yell “Hi Miss Powers!” in the hallway, and getting to teach others about my favorite topic ever—nutrition: Where do I sign up?
That's right, people actually get paid to do this! All of my mentors and preceptors at UC CalFresh are extremely hard working and incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about what they do. The experiences I have had through my time with this program have further emphasized my love for community nutrition education.
Haley giving a MyPlate demonstration in a preschool class at Birney Elementary.
One of my experiences during my time with UC CalFresh was helping to create various materials and resources for the program. One such project involved creating a newsletter for parents and teachers highlighting healthy celebrations for families and children. These newsletters introduced important tips like making small changes to make the holidays a healthier season. Another project I worked on was finding scientific articles related to factors affecting the amounts and kinds of foods consumed during lunch at schools. I researched and summarized several articles that investigated the length of lunch periods and the consumption of entrée foods, fruits, vegetables, and milk in order to see if there was a general trend.
Perhaps my favorite part of my time with this program was getting to observe and teach nutrition lessons in the classroom. I was able to see first hand the way that lessons are created and geared towards each grade level, from preschool to 6th grade. Each lesson had its own focus, however a brief MyPlate overview and some sort of physical activity was always included. I found that this was very important because it gave the lessons consistency and helped underscore the two most important concepts we want students to know: exercise is important and a healthy balanced plate is a must! Lessons were very interactive, and the children were very receptive to the information given to them. I enjoyed not only observing different employees' teaching techniques, but I also enjoyed getting to jump in and teach some of the lessons myself. I was also fortunate enough to observe an adult education class. This class was structured very differently than the elementary school classes, however MyPlate and physical activity were still included. There were also multiple tastings, which helped introduce participants to new foods and keep them involved and focused on the lesson. I was able to contribute to their nutrition education experience by answering some of their tough questions, which made me feel great!
Haley singing the "Plant Parts" song with a kindergarten class at Kratt Elementary.
After gaining a better understanding of the curriculum, the classroom environment, and the goals of the UC CalFresh program, I was able to create my own lesson plan that I felt would be an effective tool for teaching students about added sugar. I researched and came up with activities that were hands-on and interactive, while still emphasizing the importance of MyPlate. I would be honored to get to teach this lesson to students in the future!
“The general goal of UC CalFresh is to improve the diet and nutrition-related skills of CalFresh recipients and their families.” When I read this objective from the UC CalFresh website after my experience with the program, I can honestly say that the daily efforts put forth by all of the members of the staff are with this particular goal in mind. Objectives and mission statements can sometimes be so far removed from the day-to-day reality of certain organizations, but for UC CalFresh it is their everyday mindset. The work atmosphere, goals, and practices of this program are absolutely in line with where I see myself working in the nutrition field.
Sign me up!