Food Education and Curriculum Resources

Food Education and Curriculum Resources

Harvest of the Month

Each month, a locally-grown fruit or vegetable is featured on the school lunch menu and educational materials are provided for students, teachers, and parents. Harvest of the Month provides an educational opportunity to encourage healthy choices and talk about where our food comes from. It also allows food service staff to experiment with preparing and serving local produce. This can involve finding a local farm to procure the product, trying new recipes, and doing taste tests in the cafeteria.

Some schools highlight their Harvest of the Month item on a single day of the month, and others feature it multiple times. Harvest of the Month connects the cafeteria, classroom, school garden, and community in learning about and sharing food that grows in our region.

The Whatcom Harvest of the Month program is available (and can easily be adopted) by any district in the Northwest.

WSDA’s Farm to School Toolkit provides a range of Harvest of the Month materials and resources to help schools in Washington State promote their efforts to students and families. WSDA’s Harvest Posters highlight seasonal Washington fruits and vegetables and are available for download, and their WA Grown Food Kit offers information, recipes, sample menus, and nutrition facts.   

Picture13Recommended Harvest of the Month materials from other counties and states include:

Taste Tests

Research has shown that children need to try a new food twelve times or more before they decide that they like it.  Taste tests are a way to give children an opportunity to try new foods, introduce new menu items, and encourage healthy food choices. Some school districts do taste tests in conjunction with the Harvest of the Month program to highlight the monthly fruit or vegetable and incorporate educational resources.

School Gardens

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USDA supports school gardens as a proven tactic for improving children’s attitudes and consumption of produce, and for incorporating experiential nutrition and agriculture education into school curricula. Research that demonstrates positive impacts associated with school gardens has been compiled by the Collective School Garden Network, Kids Gardening, Slow Food USA, and the USDA School Garden Research.

Curriculum Resources

  • Ag in the Classroom Curriculum Matrix – National Organization for Agriculture in the Classroom offers an extensive list of agriculture-related lesson plans and other resources organized by grade level.
  • Picture15Dig In! from USDA’s Team Nutrition: Ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat Together Eat Better from WSU: Educational materials focusing on family meals. Resources support nutrition, parent, and youth educators in teaching the importance of family meals in setting healthy roots for a lifetime.
  • Farm to School Knowledge Base for Educators from FoodHub: A list of farm to school educational resources organized by grade level.
  • Farm to School Lesson Plans from Growing Minds: Farm to school activities that incorporate national curriculum standards for different grade levels.
  • Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: Designed to empower 11th and 12th grade youth, teach them about their local food system, engage them in meaningful, hands-on learning activities that also strengthen their school’s farm to school program, and link them directly with farmers in their community.
  • Fish to Schools a classroom guide for “stream to plate” unit lesson plans.
  • Food is Elementary from the Food Studies Institute: 28 age-appropriate lesson plans for pre-K through 2nd grade and 3rd grade through 8th grade. The participatory one-hour lessons integrate art, geography, history, language arts, writing, mathematics, and science and encourage students to engage all their senses while they study whole foods, nutrition and cooking.
  • Food Span: Teaching the Food System from Farm to Fork, by Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, is a free downloadable high school curriculum that teaches students about critical food system issues, how to make healthy food choices, and become advocates for food system change.
  • GOOD: Enjoying the pleasures of healthy and delicious food, by Slow Food USA & Gigia Kolouch, 2014, is a school garden curriculum for grades K-5 that presents lessons in sensory education and cooking skills.
  • CLEAN: Enjoying the pleasures of healthy and delicious food for grades K & up, by Slow Food USA & Gigia Kolouch, 2015, presents school garden lessons as well as recipes and instructions for cooking in the classroom. Both GOOD & CLEAN are designed to help teachers meet Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards in multiple subject areas.
  • The Great Garden Detective Adventure from USDA’s Team Nutrition: An 11-lesson curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers.
  • The Growing Classroom from UC Santa-Cruz: A garden based Science and Nutrition curriculum for 2nd through 6th grades published by the National Gardening Association.
  • The Edible Schoolyard Network: Educational resources for the garden classroom, kitchen classroom, academic classroom, and cafeteria, organized by type, grade level, and season.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 Youth from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education: A guide to sustainable agriculture-oriented educational programs and curricula that includes direct links as well as program contact information.
  • Teaching the Food System from the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future offers a curriculum for 9th-12th graders comprised of 11 classroom-ready modules that help educators deliver compelling lessons with minimal preparation.

Farm Field Trips

Nutrition Education

  • Northwest Indian College Traditional Plants and Foods Program is a resource for learning about the traditional Northwest Coastal Indian diet. The Northwest Native Foods curriculum includes native foods principles, information on harvesting and cooking many foods, and the nutritional importance of a native foods diet. 
    Contact:  vsegrest@nwic.edu
  • Picture18 The Real Food Show is a 40-minute show produced and sponsored by the Community Food Co-op in Whatcom County, available to schools throughout the region. The show is designed to motivate and teach students to make healthy food and lifestyle choices. With comedy and circus arts, the show aims to increase nutrition and health knowledge while inspiring a positive change in attitudes, habits, and behaviors. Shows are available for school assemblies and events at reasonable and negotiable rates.  
    Contact:
      karlm@communityfood.coop
  • WA State University Extension SNAP-Ed provides nutrition education and support of policies and practices that promote healthy lifestyles for low-income individuals and families. Education is delivered through hands-on lessons at sites where people live, learn, work, shop, and play. Interventions to improve the policies, systems and environment in these settings are aimed at improving the likelihood that program participants will make healthier food choices and be physically active. Program staff also work to connect local farms with schools and other institutions to increase access to healthy, locally produced food for SNAP participants.
    Contact:  jen.hey@wsu.edu
  • SNAP-Ed Library has over 150 nutrition education curricula and lesson plans as well as social marketing campaigns, evaluation tools, and other resources.

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