Providing the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits
Kindergarteners and transitional kindergarteners are busy learning new skills, including healthy eating. Dairy Council of California’s Kindergarten 8-unit nutrition education program is aligned with California’s Common Core State Standards, and is designed specifically for children of these ages. Primary goals of the program are to teach children about the five food groups and how to differentiate food-group foods from foods that are high in empty calories.
Average class time for the activities ranged from 11 to 19 minutes
Results of the classroom evaluation were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of School Health describing the changes in Kindergarten students knowledge as well as improvements in student and parent food behaviors.
Young children begin developing eating patterns that can extend into adulthood. The Building a Healthy Me! Program for kindergarten and transitional kindergarten showed evidence of improving students’ knowledge of nutrition food groups and healthy breakfast options. It also resulted in improvements in students’ consumption of food-group foods and decreases in consumption of some empty-calorie foods such as candy. The family homework may have also increased parents’ focus on nutrition, indicated by parents’ increased use of food labels. Teachers overwhelming felt the program was age appropriate and accomplished its goals.
A formative evaluation of the Kindergarten program was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California during the 2013-2014 school year. Over 700 students and 500 parents of those students participated in the evaluation as an Intervention group. Researchers evaluated changes in students’ nutrition knowledge and dietary intake, nutrition behaviors of parents, and teachers’ opinions of the Building a Healthy Me! program. The Intervention group was measured on key outcomes prior-to and after participating in the program. After the program ended, the evaluation also compared the Intervention group students to a Control group of 101 students who had not participated in the program. Read the full report here.