Healthy food and beverage choices on the menu in OSU Extension workshops

People are standing around a table making a pizza with fruit instead of cheese and meat.

In fall of 2021, regional leadership at the Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC) contacted the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Education Program (SNAP-Ed) unit in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties with a request to provide professional development trainings for OCDC early childhood educators and food service staff in those counties. The coalition identified a need for its staff to understand the basics of healthy food and beverage choices, as well as how to create a positive mealtime environment for children in their care.

In February and June 2022, the Extension SNAP-Ed unit led four professional development workshops in English and Spanish using two lessons from the Cooking Matters for Childcare Professionals curriculum, “Positive Mealtime Attitudes” and “Choosing Healthy Foods for Kids.” Additionally, the SNAP-Ed unit added a supplemental activity from the curriculum about the importance of teamwork when feeding children at early childhood sites, and an opportunity for staff to brainstorm how to create a "nutrition experience" for the children in their care.

SNAP-Ed enhanced the instruction with hands-on learning, leading two sample nutrition experiences with staff that they could use with their students and adding hands-on activities to reinforce learning. For example, groups of educators practiced reading labels to identify whole grains and healthy dairy options.

The Positive Mealtime Attitude workshops drew a total of 53 attendees. The Choosing Healthy Foods for Kids workshop drew a total of 54 attendees. In the Choosing Healthy Foods for Kids workshops, attendees were asked to describe an activity or action they would take for themselves, their family or the children in their care based on what they learned in the workshop. The responses included:

  • “I will be making an effort to make sure that half my plate is fruit/veggies.”
  • "I will try the canned, frozen and fresh activity. I loved seeing the difference."
  • "I will have [the children] take little taste tests of veggies cooked in different forms."
  • "[I will] engage my son in one cooking activity a week."