August 2009 || 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 2, Issue 2]

Teaching Nutrition Through Gardening
Itís much easier to teach children to eat nutritious foods when you get them involved in the process of preparing foods in the kitchen, so itís no surprise that showing them how to grow foods works too. Teaching children about gardening is a great way to get kids interested in eating healthy foods.

Kids Learn About Nature, Nutrition Through Gardens

Providing healthy meals at school is half the battle, the other half is getting kids to appreciate good nutrition.  You can use gardening ideas to teach your students about nutrition:

  • Plant a classroom garden on the school grounds.
  • Use a small window garden to raise plants such as herbs and cherry tomatoes.
  • Arrange field trips to local farms or botanical gardens.
One Schoolís Experiment With Local Foods

A school in Portland Oregon experimented with local foods in order to improve the nutrition of school lunches and support the local economy. Some of the kids had never even eaten a fresh strawberry so eating more wholesome fresh foods was a new experience. Of course, there are always a few picky eaters wherever you go, but it looks like the kids gave great reviews to the new foods and the experiment was a success.

School Lunch Brings Home the Bacon

It’s encouraging that kids actually enjoyed eating local fresh foods and it helps the local economy.  But how do you get your school started?  The USDA offers some advice for going local (  Here’s just a few tips:

  • Contact your state or county department of agriculture to locate local farmers who produce the foods your school needs.
  • Work with a farmer’s co-op.  This reduces time spent calling individual farmers to place orders.
  • Locate a wholesaler who works with local farmers.
  • Expand the local foods trend to the classroom with school gardens, cooking classes and nutrition education.
Eating Less When Eating Out

Kids and school staff eat one or two meals at school every day, but they may be eating many of their other meals in restaurants.  Typically, restaurants serve larger portions and not always the healthiest foods so eating out frequently can really contribute to unwanted weight gain.  The National Restaurant Association has some terrific tips for watching calories when you eat at restaurants – great information for both teachers and students.

Want to Watch Calories When Dining Out?

Talking about cutting calories and making healthy choices at restaurants may be a great topic for health and family and consumer education classes. Here are a few teaching tips for eating out.
  • Talk about healthy restaurant choices in health classes (don’t forget about fast food restaurants).
  • Teach serving sizes with visual tools ( so kids can figure out how many servings are really on that restaurant’s plate.
  • Serving appropriate portion sizes at school lunch can reinforce knowledge of healthy serving sizes.
How Awesome is Aurora

Aurora is the only web-based system of its kind.  Take a look at these testimonials to see how made an impact for these schools.

Nutrient Facts Ė Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Almost all calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.  Only about 1% of the calcium in your body is in the blood, muscles and the fluid between your cells.  Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, plus it plays an important role in normal blood clotting, muscle contraction, hormonal secretion and nervous system function. 
Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.  You’ll also find calcium in dark green vegetables, whole sardines and calcium fortified foods such as breakfast cereal and some brands of orange juice.  Your body also needs plenty of vitamin D in order to absorb and use calcium. 
Your body constantly breaks down and rebuilds your bones to keep them strong. When you're young, your body builds up calcium as fast as it removed it from the bone, that’s why it’s so important for kids to get enough calcium from a healthy diet. When you get older, your body tends to resorb more calcium than it puts back so you're at a greater risk for osteoporosis.   Calcium supplements are often recommended for women to help prevent osteoporosis.  They’re generally safe and readily available over the counter, but supplements of any kind shouldn’t be used in place of healthy food sources of vitamins and minerals.

Source:  Calcium Fact Sheet – National Institutes for Health

More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children

10 Ways to Raise Food-Smart Kids
Five Power Foods All Kids Need

Healthy Foods and Snacking
About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet.  She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website ( and is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies