As a dietetic intern, I will spend approximately eight weeks in information technology training, nine weeks in foodservice management, and fourteen weeks in the clinical environment. Though these are some of the core areas in the dietetic profession, community nutrition is definitely gaining momentum as public interest about nutrition and health grows. Therefore, I was excited to jump into my community nutrition rotation with the Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE) program. FSNE is sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension and provides nutrition education to participants of the federal food assistance programs.
Last week, I worked with four different FSNE nutrition educators to deliver four different curricula to over 800 Pre-K kids, kindergarteners, fourth graders, and Head Start children. Two of my favorite experiences both included Pre-K children and kindergarteners chowing down on their fruits and vegetables. On Monday, we assisted the nutrition educator prep and present Growing Healthy Habits—Parts of the Plant Salad. It may be a simple concept, but the kids were excited to see the school garden and learn how the plant starts from a seed and grows to have roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. We then made a salad composed of romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, chopped celery, broccoli florets, mandarin oranges, and sunflower seeds. Most kids loved the salad and said that is was the best one that they ever had! I also felt that the kids had a sense of pride knowing exactly what they were eating and where it came from. I had some fun watching them try to pronounce broccoli florets, too.
My second memorable experience from last week was at Moravia Park Fall Festival where the nutrition educator hosted a “Mock” Farmers’ Markets. This event provided over 400 preschoolers, kindergarteners, and Head Start kids with the opportunity to discover what they might find at the farmers’ market. In addition, they were able to sample the apples, pears, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuces. I must say the faces were priceless as some children bit into their first tart grape tomatoes, and others were pleasantly surprised by how much they liked the pears.
Overall, it was a great first week at my community nutrition rotation. I am always impressed when young children not only eat their fruits and vegetables but also like them! Exposing children to healthy foods and habits while reinforcing positive social environments is definitely a step in the right direction in tackling the childhood obesity problem in America. I feel privileged to be part of the FSNE program and to witness the changes being made in children’s nutritional health.