Lead to Feed shares health

Elementary students at Shiloh learning basics of good nutrition, lifestyle

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HUME – It is never too early to start learning about the benefits of healthy food and three members of the Shiloh High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization are partnering with the district’s third, fourth and fifth grade teachers to teach basic nutrition in the classroom.

The trio of Samantha Gerberding, Mackenzie Niedfeldt and Ema Fulopova divided the topic into three categories: fruits, vegetables and a combination session about grain and dairy. It was an every other week approach with lessons delivered one week for a single category and the following week devoted to planning and shopping for the next session. 

“It’s part of a national project called Lead to Feed, and we wanted to do something with it,” said Gerberding.

The project lacks a set agenda so there is a great deal of flexibility in how students approach it. 

“We picked nutrition because we thought not enough kids learn about it at a young age,” said Niefeldt.

One goal is to spend time with the elementary students talking about the nutritional value of food and the importance of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. 

“We want them to know about the vitamins and minerals in food,” said Fulopova. “We want them to know it is better to eat healthy and encourage better eating habits.”

The lessons are accompanied by samples the girls prepare in advance in the family and consumer education classroom. A follow-up survey is used to determine if the young students consumed more of the recommended foods.

The fruit lesson provided samples of apple, cantaloupe, mango and mandarin oranges. For the vegetable day, the girls cooked chicken teriyaki served in a lettuce wrap accompanied by sugar peas and bell pepper. 

The grain and dairy lesson this week featured a rollup of a commercially available artichoke spread on spinach and herb-based tortillas. The girls also baked Domino’s breadsticks topped with garlic butter and served with the restaurant’s cheese dip.

Domino’s provided a 60 percent discount and a free cup for each student as a way to help the project. Additional support was received from Kroger’s with a $40 store credit, Wal-Mart provided a $25 credit toward purchases, the Shiloh Box Top Fund gave $100 and the Shiloh PTO also provided $100. The Paris McDonald’s is supplying 80 coupons for free ice cream cones.

Getting ready for the elementary classroom visits requires more than preparing the food. The girls also create lessons and have accurate information to share with the elementary students.

Gerberding and Fulopova incorporate material from their food science class.

“We want them to know the good food that nature provides,” said Gerberding.

Niefeldt brings information from her anatomy class about how the body uses nutrition.

“We are learning as we are teaching,” said Niefeldt. “This is pretty much a new experience.”

Fifth grade teacher Phyllis Stone likes the job the high school students are doing in her classroom. 

“What it’s done is introduce them to fruits and vegetables they have never tried,” said Stone, who incorporates the food lessons into a current science unit about chemical energy.

Lead to Feed is something the girls are taking to FCCLA competition. They have already won a gold standard at sectional and are working on a video for state. If they finish among the top two at state, they advance to the national level competition later this year.

There have been a few surprises along the way such as food pickiness and what some students already knew. 

Gerberding recalled a third grade student who was knowledgeable about salmonella and other food disorders. One fifth grade girl has tired only one sample the girls provided and even rejected an apple slice because it still had peel attached to it. 

The girls acknowledge people have different likes but they are mystified by such reticence to try new things.

Niefeldt does not consider herself a picky eater but admitted to disliking seafood, and Gerberding avoids cooked spinach.

Fulopova, an exchange student from Slovakia, is currently on a food adventure.

“Here in America there are so many differences in food,” Fulopova said. “I’m willing to try so I know if I like it.”