Nutrition Primer for Teaching Classroom Programs

Healthy Eating Patterns

Healthy eating patterns encompass all food and beverage choices over time, providing an adaptable, personalized framework tailored to preferences, culture, traditions, and budget. Choose a variety of nutrient-rich foods from the food groups—Dairy; Vegetables; Fruits; Grains; Protein—to build healthy eating patterns that aid in optimal growth and development and reduce the risk of chronic disease.


Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is associated with better health, diet quality, behavior, and academic benefits. Skipping breakfast is associated with decreased cognitive performance; lower diet quality; and low intakes of fiber, folate, iron, and calcium. Aim to include a variety of foods from at least 3 food groups for a healthy breakfast.



Snacks may provide about one-quarter of the nutrients and calories children consume each day. Most children and adults do not meet the daily recommended amounts of dairy, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Aim to combine 2 or more food groups during snack time as a mini meal to help bridge nutrient gaps.



All beverage choices matter and contribute to total calorie intake and hydration. Focusing on nutrient-rich beverages can help build healthy eating patterns.

Far to You

Farm to You

California’s year-round growing season and rich agricultural heritage make it the ideal state to explore agriculture education! Farm to School programs help increase food literacy, bring nutrition to life, and elevate the health of children and communities while supporting local farmers, local agriculture, and local economies.

Commonly Miscategorized Foods

Commonly Miscategorized Foods in the Food Groups

Consistent with USDA’s food grouping system at