Nutrition program associate Sarah Geist.

  • Sarah Geist
    Sarah Geist

Nutrition program associate Sarah Geist has been working with Macon Elementary School in Macon County to deliver nutrition classes to children. The classes follow the Show Me Nutrition curriculum for kids from preschool to junior high. Topics range from making proper food choices based on the individual’s needs to the various food groups and their nutritional benefits.

But the students don’t just learn about different foods. They also get to eat them. For example, in a session on fruits, they might make a fruit salad with frozen blueberries, fresh bananas and canned peaches. The goal is to show the children that healthy foods can taste great, too, Sarah said.

At Macon Elementary, the class is taught in the cafeteria right after lunch. At the end of the lunch period, the hardworking folks at the school have to clear the children out, clean everything up and get the kitchen and seating ready for the class.

“The setting makes it difficult,” Sarah said. “When you take students out of their typical classroom environment, things can be hard to manage.” When they’re at their desks, it’s time to focus and learn. The cafeteria, on the other hand, is for socializing and being loud with friends. Teaching a class in the same place kids have their lunch breaks requires making the class fun while teaching important concepts about nutrition.

The class Sarah teaches is for SNAP-eligible audiences.

Some of MU Extension’s greatest benefits are the connections made between our programs and other organizations in the community, such as local schools. “It’s all really about building relationships in the community and forging partnerships,” Sarah said. “We want to get Missouri toward the big goal of being healthy together.”

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