School Nutrition Connects Nutrition and Project-Based Learning for Secondary Teachers

School Nutrition Helps Teachers Connect Nutrition with Project-Based Learning
for a day of nutrition education and farm to school training

Ashburn, VA: Last month, School Nutrition Services collaborated with Virginia Cooperative Extension of Loudoun County, Giant Food and Virginia Family Nutrition Program to provide a full day of training to nineteen Loudoun County Middle and High School teachers. The training included topics on general nutrition, food science, plant science and farm to school. This training demonstrated how these subject areas could easily be applied to project-based learning initiatives while meeting SOL standards. Those who attended were able to engage in hands-on learning activities including cooking and food preparation demonstrations, soil lab experiments and recommendations on how teachers can connect students with community partners to achieve measurable learning outcomes. A follow-up survey from the training reported that 82% of attendees felt well equipped to incorporate school garden and nutrition education activities into their lesson plans while 84% plan to implement these lesson ideas during the 2017-2018 school year.

Jennifer Gardner, AP Biology teacher at Loudoun Valley High School, stated, “I really enjoyed the training and it gave me some great ideas to take back to my students.” Renae Sterling, Marketing teacher and DECA advisor at Briar Woods High School, has already started collaborating with School Nutrition to plan for her Advanced Marketing classes. Natalie Kannan, RD and In-Store Nutritionist for Giant Food stated, “This training served as a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of nutritious fruits and veggies, in a way that our youth can easily connect with and implement at home. From math to science, in the classroom, these activities allow for introductions to new fruits and vegetables, as well as basic cooking skills, all while reinforcing the subject matter being taught.” Carly Griffith, Associate Extension Agent was pleased to see the training incorporating 4-H curricula. “Being able to incorporate 4-H nutrition programs into our school system will help insure that our message of “pledging my health to better living” reaches youth of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles.” Snap-Ed Agent, Van Do, summarized the day with “the experience was truly enjoyable for both facilitators and participants and was a great example of a good community partnership.”

As part of the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant received by School Nutrition, all teachers who attended the training will receive the following at the beginning of the upcoming school year:
• Complete sets of the 4-H curricula used for the training
• School Nutrition will also randomly select eight participating schools to receive their choice of a composting tumbler or raised garden bed to enhance farm to school experiences for students.
• Through a partnership with the Loudoun County Health Department, all attendees will receive a hydroponic garden tower for their classrooms or designated area in their school.

For more information about School Nutrition Services or our community partners, visit or contact Stefanie Dove at (571) 252-6502.



School Nutrition Partnering With Whole Foods For Free Community Event In Loudoun County

Loudoun County School Nutrition Services is partnering with Whole Foods in Ashburn along with various community partners to host the first ever, Healthy Living In Loudoun Day!! There will be cooking demos, nutrition education sessions, games, and physical activities for all ages.

Healthy Living in Loudon

Nutrition education sessions will be held every hour and will be conducted by George Mason Graduate Students along with LCPS Registered Dietitian, Stefanie Dove.  Below is a preview of what the nutrition sessions will include.

Nutrition Education Workshops: Micronutrients across the Lifespan

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals required in small amounts for healthy growth and development. This workshop will consist of a series of talks focused on how to select and prepare foods to meet micronutrient requirements across different stages of the life cycle.

10 – 11 am

 SESSION A: PREGNANCY & BREASTFEEDING (Grocery Department Focus: Dairy)

Presented by: Shehla Dhar, Hillary Klemmt, Alyson Smith, Yuhui Wang

Nutrition & Food Studies, George Mason University

Pregnancy and lactation are critical periods of a woman’s life. It can be confusing and overwhelming to know which vitamins and minerals are important during these life stages. This presentation will focus on three essential micronutrients required in increased quantities to support the growing and developing fetus and infant:

  • Folate (B9): protects against neural tube defects. Found in green, leafy vegetables and enriched grains (bread, cereal, pasta).
  • Iron: essential to making hemoglobin, which provides oxygen to the fetus. Found in meat, poultry, fish, and legumes.
  • Vitamin A: involved in gene expression, cell growth, vision, and immunity. Found in sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens.

Consumption of these foods may differ due to cultural or ethnic differences. For example, vegetarians may have a difficult time getting adequate iron. Therefore, this presentation will discuss how to meet the requirements for these micronutrients in ways that are feasible and flexible across different diets. We will be demonstrating how to prepare “Paneer Panzanella” a nutrient dense fresh cheese salad.

11 am – 12 pm


(Grocery Department Focus: Fruits/Vegetables)

 Presented by:  Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN

Registered Dietitian and School Nutrition Marketing Specialist,

Loudoun County Public Schools

 We will focus on encouraging small children to eat a variety of colorful foods in order to maximize their nutrient intake. Introducing children to new foods requires some work as studies show it typically takes 3-4 times of being exposed to a new food for a child to accept it.  The colors that fruits and vegetables have are directly related to the vitamins and minerals that they contain.  For example, carrots and cantaloupe contain beta-carotene, which is essential for eyesight, while dark leafy greens are high in vitamin K, which plays an important role in bone health.  We will discuss the appropriate meal and snack sizes for various age groups.  Parents will be provided with ideas and tips on how to encourage small children to try new foods as well as traditional recipes with a twist, such as macaroni and cheese with a butternut sauce.  We will be preparing a rainbow veggie wrap that is easy to prepare and can be modified based on the preferences of the child. 

12 – 1 pm

 SESSION C: ADOLESCENTS & TEENAGERS (Grocery Department Focus: Snack Foods)

Presented by: Yealim Kim, Liang Li, Pam Redburn, Adam Scott

Nutrition & Food Studies, George Mason University

 We will focus on vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, which is needed to help develop bones and muscles during important periods of growth such as puberty. Dairy is a natural dietary source of calcium yet, most non-dairy beverages (soy, almond, coconut, etc.) may be fortified with vitamin D and calcium. Smoothies are affordable and easy to prepare snacks. Soy beverage is an alternative to dairy for those who are lactose intolerant yet, is still high in protein. Almond and coconut beverages tend to be lower in protein. Banana can add potassium and vitamin B6. Frozen fruits add vitamin C. Smoothies can be modified to include ingredients, such as seeds and nuts, which increase calories and nutrient content. As opposed to a candy bar or a bag of chips, smoothies can provide a nutrient dense snack or meal replacement. We will be preparing “Laney Loo Loo” smoothies, a recipe developed by Lucketts Elementary School student, Delaney Pearson.


1 – 2 pm

 SESSION D: ADULT ATHLETES (Grocery Department Focus: Protein Bars)

Presented by: Jillian Eckert, Xiao Han, Fangsu Jia, Leeann Kitzhaber, Garrett Trump

Nutrition & Food Studies, George Mason University

We will focus our presentation on the vitamin B-complex and its importance for adult athletes. Thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and biotin (B7) are all involved in energy production during exercise. Folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) are required for protein synthesis, the production of red blood cells, as well as in the repair and maintenance of muscle tissue. We will discuss food sources and other ways to add B-vitamins to your diet. Lastly, we will demonstrate how to make a no bake dairy-based protein bar high in B-vitamins. We will compare the macronutrients and micronutrients of our homemade protein bar with some of the other bars on the market.


2 – 3 pm

 SESSION E: WOMEN’S HEALTH (Grocery Department Focus: Grains)

Presented by: Elizabeth Frimpong, Barbara Gomperts, Chau Nguyen, Xin Zhao

Nutrition & Food Studies, George Mason University

B-vitamins protect women’s health in many ways. Vitamin B9 (folate) impact the formation of red blood cells and may improve heart health. Vitamins B12 (cobalamin) and B6 (pyridoxine) may prevent fatigue and brain fog, stabilize mood, reduce depression, and aid in weight control. B-vitamins are found across a number of food groups including: fruits, vegetables, beans, fortified whole grains and cereal products, and animal source foods. Rich in micronutrients, whole wheat pasta and fresh vegetables are good low-cost sources of B-vitamins; small portions are required for adequate daily intake. We will prepare a simple, colorful, vitamin B-rich pasta salad using whole wheat elbow macaroni, a variety of fresh vegetables, feta cheese and topped with a fresh organic dressing.

3 – 4 pm

 SESSION F: SENIORS (Grocery Department Focus: Canned Foods)

Presented by: Yu Ping Lin, Michaela Mlejova, Worawarin Ratanawijit, Richard Xiao

Nutrition & Food Studies, George Mason University

 For this workshop, we will focus on controlling sodium intake and optimizing folate (B9) intake to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health. We will provide tips for selecting canned goods. Canned foods are convenient and have a long shelf life, but they are recognized for being high in dietary sodium which can negatively affect blood pressure and kidney function. However, a thorough draining and rinsing of canned products eliminates sodium from the surface to help individuals with high blood pressure cut their sodium intake. We will talk about how to decrease high blood pressure through the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the importance of vitamin B9 in improving cardiac health with good dietary sources like canned beans. We will prepare a mixed beans and greens salmon salad.

Click here to sign up for any of the FREE nutrition education sessions.