As a parent, you want what's best for your child. When it comes to their education and future success, you may be considering nutritional programs to help them stay on track. Here are some tips to get started. Implementing a nutritional program for students can be a challenge, but with the right resources and support, it can be done! Here are some tips to get you started:
Start with the basics - what are the goals of the program and who will be participating?
Implementing nutritional programs in our schools is a powerful way to ensure that students of all ages have access to healthier, more balanced meals. Creating a successful program requires clear goals and a plan for making those goals a reality. The primary goal of implementing nutrition programs is to provide the best possible nutrition for the health and wellbeing of each student. Nutrition education interventions that use a whole school approach can increase participants’ consumption of high-fiber foods, healthier snacks, water, milk, and fruits and vegetables, as well as reduce consumption of low-nutrient dense foods, high fat foods, and sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs), and decrease breakfast skipping. Other objectives may include curbing unhealthy habits, cultivating an environment where healthy living is normalized, or reducing financial strain on families. Who will be involved in the implementation process?
Everyone from administrators and teachers, to cafeteria staff members and parents can come together and link arms to create some lasting positive change in our schools. Most importantly, it’s essential that we involve our students, so they are given an opportunity to participate in projects which directly benefit them. Nutrition information should also be available to any community members who would like to engage with the program and help drive it forward. Incorporating Nutritional Programs into our schools has the potential transform lives - let's use this tool wisely! Click here to learn more on why it is important to get involved.
Research different options and create a plan that is tailored to your school's needs
When evaluating different nutritional programs for students, it is important to research options that fit the unique needs of each school. It is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach and each school needs to create an individualized plan that addresses their unique situation. Finding resources and programs tailored to what works in your school's environment can help you make positive changes quickly and effectively. Doing research on available resources, working with stakeholders, and talking with experts are great ways to start creating a plan suited to your school's needs. Taking these steps can help you promote nourishing opportunities for students and empower them to make healthy choices in their lives. For ideas on how to get started check out Action for Healthy Kids.
Implement the program gradually
When it comes to making changes in schools and implementing nutritional programs for students, it simply cannot be achieved overnight. It is important to take the necessary steps, such as making small changes such as adding healthy snacks and increased access to fresh foods in the cafeteria menus. Schools may find it helpful to survey their student body on what kind of changes they are looking for when developing their nutrition program. Through gradually introducing these changes, school administrators can help ensure that the program is a success and maximizes the benefits for all involved.
Healthy snacks provide students with an easy way to make healthier nutritional choices on a daily basis throughout the school year. Additionally, having fresh foods available in the cafeteria ensures that students get quality meals during lunchtime. With persistence and patience, any educational facility can successfully implement their governmental or district-mandated nutrition program in order to give their students future opportunities for improved wellbeing.
Get everyone on board by involving students, teachers, parents, and administrators in the process
Implementing nutritional programs in schools can be daunting, but getting everyone on board is key to creating lasting change. From students and teachers to parents and administrators, each of these stakeholders plays an important role in the success of your program. Involving them all in the conversation can not only help generate resources for nutrition education but also increase understanding and create a shared sense of ownership over the future of your program.
Take time to listen to everyone’s concerns and use their suggestions as a sounding board while planning. Try pairing students with administrators in leadership roles or encouraging parents to come volunteer at special events. Above all, get creative with how you communicate and build relationships – after all, change doesn’t happen overnight! With enough dedication and enthusiasm from each stakeholder, you can slowly but surely start moving towards a happier, healthier school community.
Evaluate the results regularly and adjust the program as necessary to ensure its success
Evaluating the results of a nutritional program implemented within schools is essential in driving success. While measuring success can look different for each school, it’s important to review both qualitative and quantitative data in order to gain a robust understanding of how the program is performing. For example, rather than simply monitoring if more students are partaking in the nutrition program, it may be beneficial to consider changes in student behavior, such as if more students choose healthier options or if there is an improvement in wellbeing among some students.
Understanding what works and what doesn’t work ensures the program is meeting its specific objectives and impacting those using it in meaningful ways. Additionally, reviews should be conducted regularly - at least once per semester or term - so any noticeable issues can be identified early and appropriate adjustments can be made quickly without much delay or disruption. With continued devotion to the evaluation process and willingness to implement change when necessary, schools have an incredible opportunity to cultivate positive relationships between their student bodies and food through community-driven nutrition programs.
Implementing a nutritional program in your school can be a great way to improve the health and fitness of your students. By starting with the basics, doing your research, and involving everyone in the process, you can create a successful program that will make a positive difference in the lives of your students. Join YFN academy today to learn more about how you can help your kids stay healthy and fit!
Action for Healthy Kids. “Nourished.” Action for Healthy Kids, actionforhealthykids.org/nourished/.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Parents for Healthy Schools.” CDC.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Oct. 2018, www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/parentsforhealthyschools/p4hs.htm.
County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. “What Works for Health: School-Based Nutrition Education Programs.” County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 8 Sept. 2020, https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/strategies/school-based-nutrition-education-programs.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). "Nutrition Education in Public Elementary School Classrooms, K-5." National Center for Education Statistics, Oct. 2001, https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/frss/publications/2000040/index.asp?sectionid=4.