Healthy eating doesn't have to be bland and boring, and the Pork Checkoff's new "Go With Lean Protein—Pick Pork" educational supplement is helping middle school students make smart dietary choices.
"As a substitute teacher, I work with students every week and see how much influence a teacher can have," says Liza Alton, who serves on the National Pork Board's Pork Safety and Nutrition Committee. "By high school, some students begin to choose a vegetarian diet or skip lunch because they want to lose weight. All students need to be reminded of the importance of including a nutrient-dense protein like pork in their diet."
In mid-September, 4,000 family and consumer science teachers received the new pork-focused educational supplement to go with the Pork Checkoff's "Step Up to a Healthier You" family and consumer science curriculum. The supplement has been designed to familiarize middle school students with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new MyPlate guidelines. The curriculum also includes an activity that shows students how pairing pork with fruits and vegetables can be an easy, tasty way to meet the new dietary guidelines.
"Kids receive a lot of conflicting messages today about what can be included in a healthy diet," says Traci Rodemeyer, director of pork information for the Pork Checkoff. "We focused the new supplement on lean cuts of pork, including tenderloin, pork chops and sirloin roast, to show how they are packed with important nutrients and provide a low-calorie source of protein."
Pork spotlights protein power
The Pork Checkoff worked with curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired to create the "Go Lean with Protein" supplement, which is available in a digital format at Pork4Kids.com. In addition to student-focused activities, the curriculum offers information for parents, including a kid-friendly recipe for Caramel Apple Pork Chops.
"Young Minds Inspired, which helped develop the "Step Up to a Healthier You" curriculum, is a great resource for the Pork Checkoff," Rodemeyer says. "They work with many teacher consultants and gather a lot of feedback, so they understand the types of educational materials that today's teachers want."
Based on teacher surveys, 97% of the teachers who received the "Go Lean with Protein" supplement report that they have used or plan to use the program. More than two-thirds plan to share the program with other educators, and 98% said they would be interested in receiving educational materials of this nature in the future.
This is good news for pork producers, says Alton, whose family runs a farrow-to-finish swine operation in Lee County, Iowa. "People need to hear pork's story, and we must be willing to tell it. I enjoy being involved in how our Checkoff dollars are invested as we share science-based information with consumers, including students. Every time someone chooses pork, this benefits all pork producers."
For more information, contact Traci Rodemeyer, TRodemeyer@pork.org, (515) 223-3529.