College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Nutrition & Food Science

Dietetics Majors Teach Youngsters How to “Eat Like Experts”

Week-long camp for College Park Academy students focuses on healthy foods
"Eat Like an Expert" camp coordinated by dietetics students and faculty culminated in a healthy feast prepard by College Park Academy students.

A group of College Park Academy students sitting down for lunch inside a classroom in Marie Mount Hall Friday afternoon had quite a smorgasbord to select from: grilled steak with blue cheese and caramelized onions, stir fry vegetables, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and a colorful fruit salad. But what made the meal even tastier was the fact that the youngsters had planned and prepared it themselves starting with conjuring up the recipes to chopping up the ingredients and finally, cooking up the finished products.

The culinary delights were the culmination of a week-long camp during which faculty and students from the dietetics program in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland taught the 10- to 14-year-olds how to “eat like experts.” They covered important topics like the different food groups and how to plan a balanced meal using the USDA’s MyPlate program. The young students also learned how to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables from a farmers’ market, practiced food safety measures by washing and storing the foods properly and got an eye-opening lesson about how much sugar soda contains – 77 grams in a bottle of Mountain Dew! “We had them actually scoop out 77 grams of sugar and they could not believe it,” said Margaret Udahogora, director of the undergraduate dietetics program.

Cooking demonstrations were also a regular feature of the program, all with an emphasis on getting the young chefs to make healthier choices. “One day we were talking about healthy after-school snacks and we made zucchini hummus and they thought it was going to be gross but then they tried it and were like ‘this is so good!’” said Lauren Pavone, a May 2014 dietetics graduate. “That was really neat to see.”

Program participants also experimented with making green smoothies, whole wheat paninis, gluten-free desserts and even baked their own bread. “The cooking was my favorite part,” said 12-year-old Nyla Lee, a rising 7th-grader. “I was inspired and made a fruit salad with a parfait for my Mom one night.”

Udahogora and her dietetics students created the lessons for the “Eat like an Expert” camp and were encouraged by how well the College Park Academy kids responded. “They’re such smart kids and they want to know things, they want to learn so it’s been really rewarding,” said senior dietetics major Klara Knezevic.

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