Blog post written by Kara Rice, Summer Nutrition Intern
Hello! My name is Kara Rice and I am Gleaners’ 2022 Summer Nutrition Intern. Over the past few months, I have worked with Gleaners' Nutrition Manager to create and facilitate nutrition education lessons for kids through the Summer Nutrition Club (SNC) program. SNC was created back in 2018 to coincide with Gleaners’ summer feeding program in Marion County. With the addition of SNC, we were able to not only provide nutritious food but also offer nutrition education to youth within the area. SNC provides interactive lessons to promote youth learning more about how the food they eat can promote a healthy lifestyle.
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager (left) and Kara Rice, Summer Nutrition Intern (right) prepare snacks for an SNC lesson
This summer, through generous funding from the Summer Youth Program Fund (SYPF), we were able to provide five program sites with the option of in-person or virtual SNC lessons. We had worked with four sites in-person and one site virtually, serving a total of 118 youth participants. I enjoyed getting the opportunity to teach so many children about what is in the food they eat. I saw the difference that providing hands-on activities in each lesson made in how much information the children were able to learn. It was amazing to see the children grow in their knowledge over the course of the three-lesson program. This opportunity provided me with the best insight into the world of nutrition education and I am grateful for all the knowledge I have gained. With this experience, I feel that I am better prepared for my future of becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD).
In past years, SNC lessons focused on the five food groups of MyPlate, making healthy choices, and general health and wellness. This year, I added a twist by creating a theme of "The Mystery of Mealtime". I incorporated clue-finding activities into each lesson and encouraged the children to be Nutrition Detectives to solve the mystery! Each lesson included hands-on activities to encourage learning about food groups using all five senses. The detective theme was incorporated into every lesson while still teaching the main concepts of nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle.
Youth participants at Freewheelin' Community Bikes show off their detective skills
We live in a world that moves so fast and keeps us so busy that we sometimes forget to slow down and enjoy the moment. This is an issue I chose to address through SNC by reminding the children to search for the details and take in an experience using all of their senses. I wanted to teach them that slowing down and taking in the present moment can show you more about the world than rushing to the answer. Just like a good detective takes his/her time to collect all the clues to solve a mystery, the youth could take their time to fully experience the food or activity that was right in front of them. My goal was to have participants be able to slow down and take in their surroundings while living in this busy world. This summer, all of this was made possible at Summer Nutrition Club!
The recipes, learning concepts, and themes that were covered in this year’s program included:
SNC "Nutrition Detectives" try their Mini Fruit Pizza snacks
SNC participants look for clues about protein and grain foods
SNC "Nutrition Detectives" discover how tasty the Magnifying Glass Pretzel Kabobs are while learning about dairy foods
Each child that participated in SNC got to take home a reusable shopping bag filled with items to help them continue their “detective work” at home. Items in the bags included a kid-safe knife, cutting board, measuring cup set, and more! The last activity of SNC was a Family Cooking Night that was held at two of the in-person sites. This event featured a snack recipe for Honey Mustard Snack Mix. This recipe is an easy way to make homemade snacks with and for kids. I demonstrated how to mix all of the ingredients and explained how to prepare the snack mix in either the oven or a slow cooker. Samples of the recipe were offered to families that attended the event at both program sites - Freewheelin’ Community Bikes and Westminster Neighborhood Services. At the end of the cooking demonstration, we raffled off two kitchen essential bags that included a rice cooker along with kitchen tools.
Kara stands ready with Honey Mustard Snack Mix samples at Westminster's Summer Family Night event
This summer I learned so much through the children and lessons that were a part of Summer Nutrition Club! I now feel that I have a more rounded education in the world of nutrition than any nutrition course could offer. I would like to thank everyone on the Gleaners’ team and all of the amazing community partners I was able to work with. I hope that I was able to make a change in the health and wellness of the community!
Gleaners’ 2020, 2021, and 2022 SNC lesson content is available year-round on the Summer Nutrition Club page for anyone interested!
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns