- Author: Chelsea Hayes
- Editor: Emily Harris
Fresno and Madera Counties' 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.
Over the past two weeks, I had the pleasure of interning with the University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Fresno and Madera Counties. On the first day of my rotation, I was impressed to see such an expansive library of diverse educational resources during a tour of the building. These resources spanned many topics, from nutrition, physical activity and hydration to sleep and food safety. It was immediately clear to me that the individuals who worked for this program were a truly passionate, invested team with a genuine goal to provide the most engaging and useful health tools to all age groups in the community. Throughout my entire rotation with UC CalFresh, I frequently thought to myself—All communities need a program like this!
I had an exceptionally fun time being involved in an array of experiences with UC CalFresh. For example, I had the opportunity to teach nutrition and physical activity lessons to elementary school students and adults. I admit that I was a little nervous to be back in the community setting, teaching larger groups again, since I had spent a majority of my dietetic internship in the clinical setting, mainly working one-on-one with individuals. However, the UC CalFresh staff set me up for success by giving me class tools that were specifically designed to deliver key messages to target populations in the most effective, efficient manner possible.
For the elementary school lessons, I used books, songs with body motions, playful games and stuffed produce characters to teach students about MyPlate and physical activity. One exciting physical activity game we played with second grade students was called, “Deal or No Deal.” This was an exercise spin-off of the popular game show with the same name. Another exciting activity we did with the students was read a book to them called, Handa's Surprise, that introduced the students to a variety of fruits and animals. To go along with the book, the UC CalFresh staff made a fun game emphasizing children's memory skills to recall which fruits and animals were paired in the book. The students and I loved doing these activities together – we shared many laughs while simultaneously learning a great deal.
For the adult lessons, I used engaging activities, laminated poster boards, interactive handouts, measuring spoons and science models to deliver MyPlate concepts. One fun flavor activity I did with the adult class involved smelling different, unlabeled spices and guessing which spice it was.
Aside from all of these amazing teaching experiences, I was also fortunate to complete a few behind-the-scenes projects. I created a Nutrition Corner intended for display in a cafeteria to support the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. "Fruits and Vegetables" was the theme of my board because I am passionate about encouraging youth to eat more produce, which offers a wide variety of nutrients and health benefits. I was surprised by how much this project challenged me to tap into my creativity and step into a child's perspective. Completing this seemingly simple task took longer than I expected, which gave me a whole new appreciation for educators.
Lastly, I cannot forget Farm and Nutrition Day! On the final day of my rotation, some of the UC CalFresh staff and I dressed up in produce costumes for an entertaining MyPlate and physical activity play. As part of the play, we performed a catchy exercise song and dance with all the students. I had a blast running around in a corn costume, dancing and singing with all the kiddos.
Overall, I learned that the UC CalFresh staff are not just talented educators; they are artists, dancers, singers, improvisers, team mates, professionals, and passionate nutrition and exercise enthusiasts. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the plethora of valuable experiences that the UC CalFresh staff and their participants gave me during my short, but extremely rewarding, two-week rotation. Thank you for allowing me to work on my teaching and creativity skills. Keep up the great work, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program!