- Author: Wayne Chang
- 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.
While I do not plan on working with children when I become a Registered Dietitian, my experience with the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program still proved to be a valuable learning opportunity. After observing nutrition coordinator, Brittanny Zweigle, conduct several nutrition education lessons and activities for elementary school students, I learned that all presented material has to be kept short and simple to engage the children and capture their attention throughout the entire lesson. Actions, word choices and lesson tools have to be appropriate for each age group in order to maintain the class' attention. For example, younger students needed a simple MyPlate with pictures to help the students learn which foods belong to which food groups, but a regular MyPlate was used with older students to allow for them to sort the foods without being prompted with visuals. I did notice, however, that even amongst the same grade levels, the children's abilities can also vary drastically from class to class; it is advisable to understand the level of your audience to best reach them.
The curriculum used by the UC CalFresh team also gave me a sense of direction on where to start teaching nutrition education to children and the general population. First, start with a MyPlate and introduce the five food groups, including what each food group does for the body and which foods belong to each food group. After this introduction, the lesson can focus on a specific food group by providing depth on its background, importance, and function. Finally, I was glad to see that the UC CalFresh team always addresses the importance of exercise! Nutrition and physical activity are both required for a healthy lifestyle.