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Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion

A USDA Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program
providing high quality nutrition education, health promotion and disease prevention services
through partnerships directed at eligible families in Chicago

Teachable Moments: School Lunchroom Activities in Chicago Public Schools

OBJECTIVE: To identify nutrition related health knowledge among high school students while simultaneously provide nutrition education/ awareness in a non-formal setting.

METHODS: During the lunch periods, a table is designated within the high school lunchrooms/cafeterias as a “Nutrition and Health” booth. Each month a nutrition theme with a related activity is selected and presented to the students. Nutrition Tips and related information are made available as handouts. Poster Boards are utilized as visual aids and to attract the students’ attention. The activities are designed to be highly interactive and to last about 5 minutes. The students’ normally answer a series of questions and the answers are collected or recorded. If needed, students may take longer to complete the activity or remain for further discussion with the Nutrition Specialist. Once the student has completed the activity, the correct information is immediately presented. Incentives are provided for participation. Incentives are in the form of healthy snacks (i.e., apples, fruit smoothies, trail-mix bags), and items that promote healthy lifestyles (i.e., organ-wise and mini-sports calendars, sport key chains, water
bottles). All the activities are completely voluntary.

Activity Examples:
(1) Test Your Portion Knowledge-10 questions of serving sizes
(2) Food For Thought: Fiber Facts-10 questions of fiber content in food
(3) Take The 5 A Day Challenge-A one day re-call on fruit or vegetable intake
(4) 5 A Day: How Hard Can it Be? – Preference and interest question on fruit and vegetables
(5) More Than Just Your Weight – Self-report of weight & height vs. discovering actual and personal body composition

CONCLUSION: The number of students reached via the “lunchroom activities” is significant considering that time is spent on an individual basis. Nutrition education within the lunchrooms has been well received by both students and school staff. Moreover, it can be concluded that students are interested in nutrition and health information and are receptive in eating fresh fruits and vegetables when made available. In relation, awareness continues to increase among student on specific health and nutrition related issues that may or may not be addressed in the normal academic curriculum.

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