- Author: Evelyn Morales
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.
Teaching MyPlate with an elementary class
I cannot think of a better way to end my internship experience than with this unique rotation at UC Calfresh. Though I have a rich background in community service, I have never been exposed to such an active group of people working together to deliver nutrition education to such a wide range of population groups, all while having tons of fun in the process. Although my two weeks here flew by there was never a dull moment. From the start, I had the opportunity to observe and assist at Jobs 2000, a program by Proteus Inc, a premier provider of training, education, and community services within the agriculturally rich Central San Joaquin Valley. I emphasized with this group of individuals. Reason being, much like most the people in the class I also grew up on the "wrong side of the tracks" per say. I am familiar with the hardships of being a teen dad while trying to find meaningful employment to support my family. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to return the following week and lead a lesson on smart shopping and reading nutrition labels. Overall the class was a lot of fun, and I believe I helped make an impact.
Rescue the Children's garden beds
Reflecting back, its safe to say each day was both insightful and exciting. For instance my second day I helped assist in lessons and conducted my first food demo at Rescue the Children, a protective, secure environment that provides long-term services to at-risk, abused, homeless, previously incarcerated women, or women with children. These groups of women were very receptive to learning about nutrition fundamentals and basic gardening skills. If you ever felt that mushy heartfelt feeling, well, this was one of those days for me. I had an excellent and fun time with these women. My heart truly goes out to these ladies, and I sincerely wish them the best.
Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to students
Throughout my internship, I've heard interns talk about their great experience teaching MyPlate in elementary schools. Full disclosure, when I got word that I will be assisting in lessons and class activities at Slater Elementary School, I was beyond nervous. In my mind teaching elementary students meant being animated and the ability to talk in a playful voice. Being that I was in the military for eight years as a combat infantryman and having a deep monotone voice, I am the total opposite of that. I was dreading being out of my comfort zone and yet, it ended up being one of my favorite experiences. Reading and teaching some yoga moves to the first graders was the cutest thing ever.
"Commit to Be Fit" Nutrition Corner
During this rotation, each intern is to develop a nutrition corner presentation board of their choosing. Nutrition Corners are centered on MyPlate and are designed to enhance school environments by providing indirect nutrition education that is appealing to students, parents, and educators. I am incredibly passionate about implementing physical activity in everyday life, so I decided to base my Nutrition Corner topic on physical activity and went with the theme "Commit to Be Fit." Keeping in mind that less is more and being careful to not clutter the poster board I decided to implement five simple tips on incorporating physical activity into any lifestyle. These include taking at least 10 minutes of activity at a time to reach a weekly goal, being active in one's own way, using what is available to plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities, and limiting screen time to no more than 2 hours a day. Interestingly, I was later informed that my Nutrition Corner will be located at Jobs 2000. Knowing they use The Eating Smart • Being Active curriculum, I decided to implement a section of the accompanying smartphone free mobile app. The app is designed to allow participants to use some of the skills they learn in class between lessons and after they graduate from the lesson series.
Moringa recipe samples
On my final day, I participated in the moringa project. Moringa is a unique tree that is drought resistant that does not require any special soil and is remarkably nutritious. Parts of it are often eaten in underdeveloped countries as a nutritional supplement because it's high in protein, vitamins A, and C, iron, calcium, and zinc. My task was to create a recipe of my choosing and formulate a different version of the method by adding or removing ingredients, making healthier versions, or making it taste better. The goal is to create a unique and delicious moringa recipe. I decided to use moringa powder in energy bites. Energy bites are one of the latest on-the-go health trends because they are super easy to make, and like smoothies, they're an opportunity to get creative with nutritious foods. I figure this would be a great way to promote the use of moringa powder in health trending recipes.
UCCE staff trying the moringa energy bites
I want to thank the UC Calfresh staff for their time and effort in providing this memorable learning experience. Thank you for your time and allowing me the opportunity to expand my skills as an active member of our community. But most importantly for reinforcing the importance of community involvement, building relationships, and provide a service to those who need it most.