“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try new things. I used to hate blueberries and now I like them a lot!” the little girl told the Teen Nutrition Team Interns after their rice cake owl activity.
The Teen Nutrition Team – TNT for short – made their debut this month. The TNT is a new nutrition education initiative that trains high-school students to become Peer Nutrition Educators for teenagers and other students at schools participating in the School Market program.
The team currently consists of 8 interns from 5 different schools: 2 from Edgewater High School, 2 from Jones High School, 2 from Ocoee High School, 1 from Sunshine High School, and 1 from Oak Ridge High School.
Meeting twice-a-week for training and in-the-field experience, the team provides nutrition education services to Summer Food Service Program Sites and Partner Agencies during their distribution times.
At summer food sites, the team members design fun activities and lessons to teach and engage the children. Activities included learning about the food groups through a food matching game, learning about portion size by creating rice cake owls, and by creating handouts to take home for their family.
At Partner Agency distributions, team members create engaging activities, recipes, and food samples to share with clients waiting in line. Those activities include a Hydration Station teaching the importance of hydration at a mobile distribution and a “Let’s Chat About Sugar, Salt, and Fat” to discuss healthy eating and awareness about salt, sugar, and fat in our foods.
While they are learning and sharing their new knowledge with the community, they are also preparing for the upcoming school year.
When the school year begins, each pair of interns will work together and alongside School Market staff to provide nutrition education and information at the Fresh Markets that will occur at their schools once-a-month. The distribution of fresh produce to students will allow teens to tackle their eating habits head-on while being motivated to participate through peer-to-peer support and knowledge transfer.
The goal is to increase opportunities for middle and high school students to get healthy food for their selves and their families, especially since meal preparation and helping at home are primary responsibilities of teens from low-income households.
Since the start of the program, TNT has engaged over 600 kids, clients, and families through their outreach efforts, further supporting that the TNT is THE BOMB!