This program strives to address the public health issue of childhood obesity through building basic skills related to food selection and promoting an increased variety of nutritious foods consumed especially vegetables and fruits.
The purpose of the Team Nutrition program is to:
- increase both teachers’ and students’ awareness of the components of a healthful diet and
- increase teachers’ competence and confidence in delivering nutrition lessons.
This program provides an annually updated nutrition curriculum to participating elementary schools, with accompanying in-service teacher training, grade-specific in-class nutrition instruction (which includes fruit and vegetable sampling), a school wide food tasting activity, and distribution of three nutrition newsletters to teachers and parents. Follow-up program evaluation with principals, teachers and staff permits program refinement and assesses program impact.
The public health issue of childhood obesity is widely recognized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003, recommends that school environments be created that support healthy eating habits. This project supports that initiative. The importance of providing nutrition education in elementary schools has been documented, as eating patterns shift and solidify as children advance to middle school age. Exposure through vegetable and fruit tasting experiences has been shown to help shape food attitudes and subsequent behaviors and preferences. Increasing teacher involvement, confidence and competence to provide basic nutrition education concepts is a critical link in promoting healthy behaviors.
The Team Nutrition in-service presentations — which provide an overview of the issue of childhood obesity and the importance of healthful eating and physical activity habits — have reached 511 teachers at nine schools having multiple year participation. One hundred ninety six lessons have been taught, resulting in 6,376 student and 225 teacher contacts. The schoolwide fruit tasting events reached 4,965 students. One hundred twenty five parents attended out-of-school nutrition presentations. Implementation of the 2010 program year is in progress with five schools participating.
Post- program evaluation findings included:
- 100 percent of teacher respondents who had received at least one in-class lesson felt the lessons were either "Very Effective" (68 percent) or "Somewhat Effective" (32 percent).
- Increasing the number of lessons taught to each class led to significant increases (Pearson correlations, p <.05) in 1) teacher awareness of MyPyramid for Kids concepts, 2) teacher preparedness to teach those concepts, and 3) the amount of nutrition content teachers made available to students outside of the Team Nutrition program.
- 71 percent reported they are now better prepared to teach MyPyramid for Kids concepts
- 69 percent reported 1) an increased awareness of the MyPyramid for Kids concepts, 2) a better understanding of the Dietary Guidelines, and 3) felt the program helped them understand and support the Washoe County School District Wellness Policy