Happy back-to-school season! It’s September, which means that students all across the country are heading back to school. With students going back into the classroom, it’s the perfect time to think about how to bring food education into your home.
There are various nutrition education programs integrated into school programming and lunches. However, most students don’t get enough food education at school. Even for students who receive food education from Midwest Food Connection or another organization, it’s important that their learning and interest in healthful food continues beyond the classroom.
As school starts back up, we have some tips for incorporating healthy eating and food education into your daily routines at home.
What is Nutrition Education?
Nutrition education is the process of teaching students about the nutrients and food their bodies need. For Midwest Food Connection, our approach to food education centers on how food connects to students’ bodies, their community, and the environment.
Nutrition education is not only about healthy eating, but also about exposing kids to new foods, showing them how to garden and cook, and getting them excited about foods that will nurture their bodies and minds. Nutrition education is one way to combat food insecurity that disproportionately impacts Black, Brown, and low-income communities. Food education promotes food equity by expanding students’ knowledge about fresh foods and increasing their exposure to healthful food and recipes.
How to Continue Nutrition Education At Home
Students receive less than 8 hours of food education each year. Organizations like Midwest Food Connection are working to increase food education in schools. However, it’s also important to continue that food education at home.
Here are some fun ways to supplement your child’s food education at school, with learning at home.
Try New Foods, Especially Fruits and Vegetables
A key part of food education is tasting foods that are new to students. Apply this idea at home! Try doing a series of taste tests for snack time, or just for a fun activity. Some ideas for foods to taste include sweet potatoes, asparagus, grapefruit, kiwi, cucumber, eggplant, or other healthy produce and foods that your kids aren’t familiar with.
Remember that it’s normal for kids not to like everything they try- and that’s okay! The goal of this activity is to get them excited about trying new foods and hopefully, find some fruits and vegetables that they do like that can be incorporated into their meals. You can also try including new or familiar fruits and vegetables during snack time to increase intake of produce.
Get Kids Involved with Making Family Meals at Home
Cooking is a great way to get kids excited about food education. Not only do they get to experience new foods, but they also get to gain knowledge of healthy recipes and learn the process of making a meal. Have your kids lend a helping hand while making dinner or get them involved with preparing their snacks.
If you need some ideas, check out these fun and easy recipes for kids that we make in our classes with K-8 students.
Promote Healthy Eating
The ultimate goal of food education is to get students interested in and excited about nutritious food. Therefore, one of the best and easiest ways to continue food education at home is by promoting healthy eating. Make it a goal to incorporate fresh foods into dinners, lunches, and snacks
As mentioned, food education is not about forcing healthy foods onto kids. It’s about balance, exploring new foods, and finding fresh foods that kids do like.
Continuing Food Education at Home
Yesterday marked the first day of school for many students across Minnesota. We’re ecstatic to be heading back into the classroom and starting our Fall lessons over the next couple of weeks. This is a great time to think about how to integrate fresh foods into daily routines at home and continuing education on nutrition outside of school.
If you don’t know where to start, check out these nutrition education materials and resources. The best advice we have for starting out is to start small. Regular activities like making dinner, eating snacks, gardening, and/ or food scrap disposal can be made into learning opportunities for kids. Most importantly, have fun with food education at home!
Midwest Food Connection teaches food education in classrooms across the Twin Cities and beyond. We help students build relationships with their food, and understand how their food choices connect to their environment and community. Through exploring new foods, healthy cooking, and gardening, kids get excited about learning how to nurture their bodies and the environment.