Lunch and Learn

Amy Haessly, the Youth Program Representative for the Family Nutrition Program at the University of California Cooperative Extension, and her office helped the employees at the San Diego County Operations Center learn how to improve their health by improving their food habits.

Each Tuesday in March they set up a table in the cafeteria during the lunch hour with informative exhibits and fun activities to help people “Eat Smart and Stay Healthy.”

Topics included:

• Local fruit & veggie tastings

• What is your serving size?

• Making healthful food choices

• Keeping your food safe

• Let’s get physical

Participants received educational information and were able to speak with a registered dietitian. The cafeteria donated lunches as prizes for raffles. The highlight of their activities was a “Lunch and Learn” presentation by a nutrition specialist from the University of California, Davis. She spoke about “Making Sense of Nutrition News” and answered questions about fad diets and current news headlines about nutrition.

Here’s some more information about each of the activities.

They emphasized the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables by giving away bags of locally grown produce donated by farmers. Their table offered tips on how to eat “5 a Day” and a listing of farmers’ markets throughout the county.

To help participants understand the serving sizes recommended in MyPlate, they created a display board using household items to illustrate serving sizes. For example, a baseball is equivalent to 1 cup of cereal or leafy greens, a cupcake holder is equivalent to a half-cup serving of vegetables, 2 ping pong balls is equivalent to 2 tablespoons peanut butter, etc.

Participants learned about making healthful food choices by learning how to read food labels and how to make more healthful choices when dining out. Tubes of fat and sugar illustrated the amounts of these nutrients in various foods, such as the amount of fat in a cheeseburger versus a grilled chicken sandwich.

To promote food safety, participants received information from “Fight Bac” about the “Four simple steps to food safety.” Participants played the “Fight Bac Bean Bag Toss” to win tickets for a raffle. The prize was an insulated lunch bag to keep their food safe when away from home.

To promote physical activity, Amy offered tips on how to move more and places to go throughout the county to play and be active. Participants were asked, “How do you stay active?” and recorded their favorite activities on a large piece of paper to inspire others to be more active.

Sherri Tobin, RD, CLE, put together a Lunch-and-Learn for the B-Well County Wellness Program. It was a “Delectable Dining Discussion.” She passed out a list of 15 Nutrition Nuggets (topics that she thought would be hot, such as herbs, antioxidants, family meals, probiotics, flax, etc.) Each participant chose their top 5 topics, the scores were tallied, and Sherri spent about 5 minutes discussing each topic in order of most popular. She had handouts available on all topics for those interested. A power parfait made from yogurt, blueberries, muesli, ground flaxseed and roasted nuts was served with green tea.

Janet Harris, MS, RD, and staff presented The Milk Challenge to their WIC clients. Participants wore sunglasses and tried to identify different kinds of milk; it is astounding to see that very few (last year not one!) could distinguish between whole and skim milk.

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