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EFNEP Educator Made Learning Fun!

The Issue

Getting teachers to sign on to do nutrition education in the classroom is not always an easy task. Nutrition education is often viewed as an additional burden on top of mandated standards and other responsibilities that teachers already have. Although teachers are supportive and see nutrition education as valuable, sometimes they simply do not have time to prepare and implement a nutrition program. According the 2017-2018 California Physical Fitness Report, one in five students in Riverside County are obese (20.5% 5th graders, 19.0% 7th graders, 19.5% 9th graders). Therefore, it is important to instill healthy eating habits early in life.

What Has ANR Done?

This year, EFNEP Educator Brenda Rangel brought creativity to the Happy, Healthy Me curriculum to make learning fun. She created a fruit rainbow poster and pieces of fruit in different colors. Kindergarten students learned the color and name of a variety of fruits when they created ‘fruits of the rainbow’. Encouraged by the positive responses from the teachers, she went on to create the vegetable poster showing a sunny day in the field. Children learned the name of different vegetables and whether they grow underground, above ground or on a vine or bush. The most fun activity is the dairy lesson. Children learned that eating the right foods such as foods in the dairy group or milk substitutes such as soy or almond milk make our bones stronger, denser and much harder to break. After talking about calcium rich foods, Brenda brought out the bowling pins she created using water bottles. The children got to shake and feel the weight of the pins. The pins with black stripes are ‘healthy’ since they are heavier and difficult to knock over, while those with white stripes are ‘less healthy’ and light. After all the kids had a turn knocking down pins to prove that she was right, a quick review followed on why we need calcium rich foods to make strong bones. Learning nutrition with EFNEP can be so much fun!

The Payoff

EFNEP reached 771 Kindergarteners with the Happy Healthy Me Curriculum

Collett Elementary was the first school to use the posters and the fruit and vegetable stickers. The teachers were excited to see the new visuals and especially when they learned that they could keep and display the posters in the classroom after the students have completed the lessons. The student surveys collected from 91 kindergarteners shows 48% of students improved in their ability to choose healthy snacks (able to circle healthy snacks), 57% improved in ability to identify dairy foods, 43% improved in ability to identify vegetables, and 44% improved in ability to identify kids being active. Engaging teachers to promote nutrition education in the classroom will help instill healthy habits in young children.


Supporting Unit: Riverside County

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
Christine Davidson, EFNEP Program Supervisor, cdavidson@ucanr.edu
Chutima Ganthavorn, NFCS Advisor, cganthavorn@ucanr.edu