Guest Post by Lydia Conner, Summer Nutrition Intern

Hi everyone! My name is Lydia Conner, and I am the Summer Nutrition Intern at Gleaners Food Bank this year. I have spent this summer working with the Nutrition Manager, Sarah Huber, to grow and revamp the Summer Nutrition Club curriculum. As my time is now coming to an end at Gleaners, and I will be returning to Purdue University for my senior year, I wanted to share and reflect on the successes and lessons learned from this experience.

A brief overview of what Summer Nutrition Club is all about: 

Summer Nutrition Club includes interactive nutrition lessons for kids focused on the five food groups of MyPlate and trying new foods. Week one was about fruits and vegetables, week two was about protein and grains, and week three was about dairy! This year, we were able to expand from three Summer Nutrition Club sites to four, all of which are Indianapolis-based community organizations that receive Summer BackSacks from Gleaners. During each lesson at every site, the kids had the chance to explore a new type of produce! This year they explored cucumbers, zucchini, basil, and mangos using all their senses. They were also able to try different snacks that featured these fruits, veggies, and herbs, as well as take home recipes and fresh produce to share with their families each week.

summer nutrition snacks
Make-your-own cucumber, ham, and cream cheese sandwiches with pretzel sticks

garden fresh healthy pizza
Garden Fresh Pizza Muffins with whole wheat English muffins, tomato slices, shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and dried basil, oregano, and parsley.

Smoothie pops made from mango, banana, low-fat plain yogurt, and orange juice.

Some key points that the Summer Nutrition Club lessons covered include:

  • Half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables at every meal. You should eat fruits and veggies that are all the colors of the rainbow for the most variation of vitamins and minerals.
coloring summer nutrition

  • Protein can come from plant sources of food and animal sources of food. You can get all the protein you need from just plant sources, just animal sources, or a mixture of the two.
 protein plants summer nutrition
  • Whole grains have three parts: the bran for fiber, the endosperm for energy, and the germ for B vitamins. You should make half of your grains whole grains.
protein summer nutrition

  • Dairy foods have lots of calcium, which helps your bones and teeth grow and stay strong. Plain 1% milk, plain low-fat yogurt, and low-fat string cheese are some healthy choices of dairy foods to eat every day, rather than others with excess sugar.

nutrition facts summer nutrition club

GOAL ACHIEVED! 130 kids were given an opportunity to learn where food comes from, how to make up a well-balanced plate, and how to get creative with recipes to ensure they’re getting lots of nutrients at each meal! They learned that trying something new is worth it, as 39 kids tried cucumbers, 65 tried basil, and 47 tried mango for their first time ever! Many of these kids said that they looked forward to enjoying these foods again! Being able to go out into these neighborhoods, meet the kids, and teach lessons with interactive activities has been so fun and an experience I will never forget. Thanks to Gleaners for doing so much every day and for showing me that I have the ability to do more to make a lasting impact for the kids of Indianapolis!

my plates The kids were thrilled to receive their very own MyPlates to take home!