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Community Nutrition Project Ideas

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Engage middle or high school students in projects to help them gain hands-on experience with community nutrition. Guide them through the steps of redesigning a mall food court, mapping out area food options, and transforming holiday recipes.

Community Nutrition Projects

Building knowledge of community nutrition is an important skill when addressing this topic. Allowing students an opportunity to apply that knowledge in new and creative ways is also essential. Use these projects with your middle or high school students to reinforce community nutrition concepts and help students transform those concepts into a hands-on experience. These projects offer you a way to engage students in renovating a mall food court to incorporate healthier options, mapping out area food choices, and infusing nutrition into holiday recipes. You can assign these as individual, partner, or team projects.

Food Court Renovation

Mall food courts are replete with choices, but how many of them are healthy options? Your students are about to find out! Engage them in this project to help them analyze existing restaurant choices and strategize about how to make nutrition a front runner in designing a food court.

  1. Provide students with food court maps from a local mall.
  2. Have students discuss the options and circle what they think are the restaurants with the healthiest menu options.
  3. Using online resources, either provide or have students attain nutrition information for the restaurants.
  4. To incorporate math skills, have students run calculations of the average calorie and fat intake of several restaurants' available choices.
  5. Using the nutrition information they've collected and analyzed, ask students to eliminate three restaurants that do not have adequate healthy choices.
  6. Have students research other food court restaurants available in your state.
  7. Students can then create a proposal for mall management to replace the three restaurants they selected for elimination with the healthier options they discovered through their research.
  8. Consider having students use presentation software to add professionalism to their proposal.
  9. Students can then present to the class or to a real-world audience like local city commissioners, chamber of commerce leadership, or even mall management.

Nutrition Mapping

Mapping out local food options is a good way for students to apply their knowledge about community nutrition. This project will help you encourage students to research and analyze local food sources. Then they can identify what is lacking in the community and craft a plan to solve any issues.

  1. Attain a map of your local area, wide enough to include a variety of food options, such as restaurants, grocery stores, farmer's markets, produce stands, farms, or community gardens. Place a marker at the location of your school, which can serve as the center of your selected area.
  2. Divide up the local map so that each student, partnership, or team has a specific area to research.
  3. Have students conduct research to find as many food purchase options as they can within their assigned area.
  4. Students can then place indicators for each option on the map. Consider using a consistent symbol system so that students can understand the data with a quick glance.
  5. Now that the map is complete, offer students a set of analysis questions. You may want to ask them to determine the healthiest options available to community members, the location within your area with the most choices, and any areas that are lacking in nutritious food choices.
  6. After analysis, have students use presentation software to summarize their analysis and present solutions to any issues they identified.
  7. Provide students an option for presenting their work to a real-world audience, such as city government officials or planning committees.

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