March is National Nutrition Month which is an event sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is a time dietetic professionals get out and spread the word about good nutrition. This year, Julie VanValkenburg, dietetic technician, registered from the Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was a special guest to Mrs. Melissa Kelly’s fourth grade classroom. VanValkenburg visited the classroom for an afternoon of nutrition fun.
VanValkenburg explained her role as dietetic technician in the clinical nutrition and food service department and on the interdisciplinary team at the skilled nursing facility. The children then reviewed the USDA’s MyPlate eating tool with the focus on the vegetable group.
Children shared their favorite vegetables with the group, which led to their next activity. With the focus on vegetables, VanValkenburg asked how many of the students had ever grown a vegetable garden? Many students raised their hands. The children each got to pick a cucumber, tomato or eggplant seed to start in a mini greenhouse that VanValkenburg supplied. Each child received a peat pot of soil, seed, popsicile stick and plastic container to put their project together. Some children took their greenhouse home, while others decided to watch their plants grow as a group in the classroom windows.
VanValkenburg ended her presentation by providing a reusable grocery bag full of nutritional information, a lunch bag to pack healthy lunches and snacks, a beach ball to remember to stay active, and a lot more fun stuff to enjoy. Since a healthy start begins at home, VanValkenburg wrapped up her presentation by encouraging the children to take the information home and share with their families.