Solid Ground’s nutritional education programming provides classroom-, garden- and community-based nutrition education to Seattle/King County communities to fight adverse health impacts due to food insecurity.
The Nutrition Education school team works with multiple elementary schools in South Seattle, providing tools and opportunities for children and their families to make informed decisions about their food choices and habits.
Led by Nutrition Education staff, AmeriCorps members, volunteers and school teachers, students in the 2nd through 5th grades are encouraged to discuss food in culturally responsible and representative ways. While 2nd and 3rd graders are introduced to nutrition basics, 4th and 5th graders learn more practical skills.
Some themes covered include:
- Food justice & access: Students are introduced to inequities and other barriers that impact access to fresh and healthy foods. They discuss challenges families may face in accessing food and learn how to work around knowledge gaps or barriers.
- Marketing & budgeting: Students gain awareness of how companies use marketing tactics to sell foods to kids and how it is possible to eat healthy while on a budget.
- Balanced eating & label reading: Students learn the five basic food groups contributing to a balanced diet and how to read nutrition facts labels, and they become more familiarized with what is in the foods they eat.
Hands-on activities, including games and preparing recipes, are incorporated into lessons to supplement students’ learning and engagement. Students participate in activities such as creating advertisements and shopping challenges. They also learn how to cook up healthy recipes such as rainbow salsa.
Through these activities, students can gain the understanding that time, transportation and money are all barriers that people face when shopping for food. At least half of the class time is spent on cooking and eating to teach fundamental cooking skills and nutrition basics.
“My favorite part of teaching nutrition and cooking … is seeing the students’ genuine and enthusiastic curiosity. It’s a win for me to observe them exploring new foods and flavors, reconnecting with food as nourishment, and questioning the food system they’ve inherited all together.” -Neli Jasuja, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator
Our Nutrition Education school team continually strives to better align the materials they teach with schools’ common core standards. Tying in nutrition education with what schools need is important, since it requires students’ and teachers’ valuable class time.
While the school system places a huge priority on positive health change in schools, there is always room for improvement. Our staff collaborates with schools to change some of their systems to supplement their delivery of nutrition education. For instance, they have offered support to schools in adapting the Smarter Lunchroom model to assure that there are healthy food options while offering an inviting space to make healthy choices.
Our Nutrition Education school team also offers Cooking Matters 6-week courses via after-school programs to engage students and their families together. One of their goals has been to work closer with families.
“My favorite part of teaching nutrition and cooking at Leschi Elementary is seeing the students’ genuine and enthusiastic curiosity,” AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator Neli Jasuja said. “It’s a win for me to observe them exploring new foods and flavors, reconnecting with food as nourishment, and questioning the food system they’ve inherited all together. As elementary school students, they are widening their perspectives to a degree I didn’t reach until adulthood.”
Check out these photos of 2nd through 5th graders participating in nutrition education!