Cafeteria Connections
Cafeteria Connections

Ideas for Bridging Nutrition Education

Eating in the CafeteriaSchool cafeterias are a wonderful resource for applying the nutrition information you are teaching in the classroom. Try out some of these extension activities drawn from Healthy Choices, Healthy Me that extend students’ learning and helps them partner with School Foodservice staff to better promote school meal offerings.

  • Cafeteria Tour. Request a guided cafeteria tour from the manager for your students. Identify the different areas where the students can get food. Discuss which Food Groups the foods come from. For example, discussion may include why milk and dairy products are important, how many servings each student needs a day and how to get this number of servings, especially from the school menu.
  • Cafeteria Advertising. Develop “advertising” materials for the foods served in the cafeteria. Have the students create colorful, visually appealing posters to share with their peers that convey nutritional information at-a-glance. Use descriptive words to encourage other students to buy the meal. Have the cafeteria manager hang the posters in the cafeteria and throughout the school.
  • Cafeteria Student Worker. Develop and implement student worker rotations to prepare and serve food in the cafeteria. Encourage the cafeteria manager to stress the importance of good hygiene and food safety to the students. Concepts may include hand-washing, use of gloves and hairnets, proper food handling and storage.
  • Cafeteria Menu. Students will discuss with the cafeteria manager the principles involved in planning the weekly menu. 1) Using the guidelines provided, plan a school menu, 2) Using the weekly menu, poll the students as to what their favorite meal is, graph the results and share with the cafeteria manager, 3) Using the weekly menu, sort the foods from the menu by Food Groups. As a class, create a graph that illustrates the results of the checklist, 4) Analyze the school menu in regards to the cultural diversity and variety of ethnic foods. Have the students brainstorm ideas for new culturally diverse menu items to share with the cafeteria manager.
  • Cafeteria Breakfast. Promote school breakfast. Have the students create colorful, visually appealing posters that convey nutritional information at-a-glance of a breakfast served in the cafeteria along with why breakfast is important. Have the cafeteria manager hang the posters in the cafeteria and throughout the school
  • Cafeteria Write-Up. Have the students contribute to the school newsletter. Mention foods served in the cafeteria to illustrate how each student can make wise food choices at school meals. Poll the students and publish what their favorite menu items are.
  • Cafeteria Taste Test. Coordinate with the cafeteria and nutrition services to have a “food of the month” tasting. Have the cafeteria provide for the students foods such as fruits, cheese and grains. Include with the tasting why the nutrients in these foods are important for a student’s growing body.