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Dietetics Students Teach Healthy Eating Habits in Local Classrooms

Dietetics Students Teach Healthy Eating Habits in Local Classrooms

Dietetics students in the Community Nutrition class spent the month of October visiting fourth grade classrooms in the Buffalo Public School District. Teaming up in pairs, the students taught BPS students healthy eating habits and where their food comes from.

Kathy Border, assistant professor of dietetics, is a member of the Buffalo Public Schools Nutrition Committee, which was looking to make proactive changes to their curriculum. The nutrition committee presented on the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program which BPS decided to integrate into their classrooms.

The D’Youville students were trained on the CATCH program by members of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, an education system that uses research to provide education and practical programs to help with the needs of local communities.

Healthy eating categoriesUsing “Go, Slow, and Whoa” categories, CATCH helps students visualize which foods are healthier than others. CATCH also teaches the process of where food starts and where it goes before it gets to your table. This curriculum helps create a community of health surrounding the students and is proven to decrease childhood obesity. 

Some bilingual students in Border’s class also traveled to schools that have a high percentage of Spanish and Arabic speaking children.

Dietetics students practice their lessonsAny Oceguera ’20, whose parents are from Mexico, grew up speaking both Spanish and English, and she was able to incorporate some of her language skills into her lessons. “I would speak to my mom in Spanish and my dad in English,” she said. Oceguera leaped at the chance to teach in the Spanish-speaking classroom because she knows how hard it is having English as a second language.

“It was hard because I would sometimes be made fun of because of an accent I had developed from being bilingual at an early age. It was easy to detect that I have learned my Spanish in a mixed setting that will involve a lot of ‘Spanglish’ — when I didn’t know a word in Spanish I would just say it in English to my mom while trying to talk mostly in Spanish,” she added.

Students prepare their dietetics lessonsAfter visiting the first classroom and seeing some confused faces, she and her partner decided to incorporate more Spanish into the second lesson.

“I prepared more and wrote the whole lesson plan in Spanish to make sure I didn’t miss any talking points. I even rehearsed with my boyfriend who is from Ecuador, who is fluent as well, to listen to what I was saying and to help me with words that I might be saying wrong or may be too difficult for fourth graders to understand,” said Oceguera. “The second lesson seemed to be successful as the students were participating more and I didn’t get any confused faces.”

D'Youville dietetics students traveled to local fourth grade classroomsBorder added that all the teachers in these classrooms were very appreciative of the lessons. “It was nice to be able to match the needs of the students from Buffalo Public Schools with the skills and abilities of our dietetic students.  The teachers and even the students appreciated our efforts in placing DYC students in classrooms where Spanish and Arabic languages were spoken.”

According to Border, these lessons at a young age can have a profound impact. “Teaching nutrition to children can encourage the growth of healthy habits, and establishing these habits can have a positive impact later in life,” she said.  “Children are curious and eager to learn so we encourage our dietetic students to design nutrition education that is fun, informative, and engaging.”

Overall, students in the Community Nutrition classes traveled to 17 schools and saw 50 fourth grade classrooms totaling more than 1,000 students who will then hopefully promote the healthy lifestyle back at home.

“In the end, people will appreciate you if you put the time and effort to teach them about improving their lives, even if it is just a short 30-minute lesson plan,” said Oceguera.


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