Beavercreek Schools: Award-winning Student Nutrition Education
Beavercreek Schools' Student Nutrition Department is constantly seeking ways to teach students about the importance of good nutrition, and employs a wide variety of efforts to encourage students to engage in healthy eating habits.
In 2013, Shaw Elementary Cafe Manager Jeannette Niezgodski created "Healthy Plate, Healthy Me"--a program whose goals were to help elementary students understand the importance of making healthy food choices. She conducted in-class presentations about nutrition, gave students kitchen tours, and worked with teachers to tie nutrition instruction into classroom lessons.
As part of her program, Niezgodski discussed how different types of foods help the body, explained what constitutes a healthy serving size for all food groups, and helped students put together balanced meals using pretend food. She also addressed some of the finer points of nutrition, explaining that a whole apple offers more nutritional benefits than apple juice. Students were asked to design a tray that showcases what a balanced meal should look like. These trays were then hung by the hundreds from Shaw's kitchen.
Niezgodski, like all Beavercreek Schools Cafeteria Managers, tracks students' purchasing patterns closely. After reaching out to each Shaw classroom with "Healthy Plate, Healthy Me," she found that fruit consumption was up by 42.5 percent and juice consumption was down by 20.4 percent. Even greater gains were made in vegetable consumption. The percentage of students taking a quarter cup of veggies with their meals went up by a whopping 130.8 percent, and 24.4 percent more students chose half-cup servings of vegetables.
Niezgodski's efforts were recently recognized with a state-level award for Excellence in Child Nutrition Programs by the School Nutrition Association of Ohio. She is one of many Beavercreek Schools Student Nutrition employees to have won this prestigious award in the last 13 years.