Food – What's in It for You?

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will describe what constitutes good nutritional practices, compare their own eating patterns to these practices and encourage others to improve their own eating habits. They will determine the value of acting on behalf of others and decide if their actions can make a difference in the school.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFour Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define and use the vocabulary of nutrition and healthful eating.
  • interpret The USDA My Plate recommendations for healthy eating.
  • describe the role of major nutrients and dietary components in maintaining healthy bodies.
  • estimate what recommended portion sizes look like without being measured.
  • analyze the role of empty calories on body size and health.
  • define philanthropy and determine how students can improve the common good through volunteer action.
    • Learner journals
    • Learner copies of Journal Entry #1
    • Projected image of the USDA website
    • Learner copies of Fast Food Nation
    • Learner copies of Kids Gobbling Empty Calories
    • Teacher handouts for reference

    Choose My Plate Use this as a source for information on the USDA nutritional requirements. 

    Duyff, Roberta Larson. American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. Minneapolis: Chronimed Publishing, 1998. ISBN: 1-56561-160-8 

    Hellmich, Nanci. "Fast Food Nation," USA Today,

    Information on nutrients can be obtained from this site.



    1. Anticipatory Set: Say, "Let’s think about food. What did you eat and drink yesterday?" Hand the learners a copy of Journal Entry #1 and ask the students only to record meals, snacks and beverages they ate yesterday.

    2. Once the learners have recorded their food intake, present background information on the USDA My Plate nutrition guidelines. Go to the USDA website Share the information about food groups, portion sizes and nutrients,and have learners take notes on the information provided there.

    3. Using the handout Journal Entry # 1, have students complete the Food Group Tally at the bottom of the page and compare their totals to the FDA recommendations by placing a + or – after their totals. Explain that combination foods like pizza and macaroni and cheese will have whole or partial servings from more than one food group.

    4. Using the handout Six Major Nutrients, or another source, present information on the six major nutrients and their purposes in our bodies. Instruct students to place the first letter of each major nutrient in the food group(s) where those nutrients will be found. This will give the learners information on the nutrients for subsequent lessons. Learners can refer back to USDA's My Plate and see how poorer diets will affect a person’s health.

    5. Arrange the learners into teams of three. Direct them to go on-line and complete a search related to the topic "Teens and Empty Calories". (An option, if going on line is not possible, is to distribute copies of the handouts Fast Food Nation and Kids Gobbling Empty Calories. Ask the teams to read an article and come up with three to five major concerns about nutrition that were expressed in their article. After the teams have had enough time to complete the task, return to a whole group and let the teams report. As their concerns are stated, list them on the chalkboard or projector.

    6. From the concerns derived from the articles, ask the learners to create a list of "Ten Tips for Healthy Eating."

    7. Once the list is complete, ask the learners to make recommendations on how the list could be put to good use to improve the eating habits and health of others in the school. Recommendations may include public address announcements to the student body in the form of a rap or skits, posters each reflecting a tip which could be displayed in the lunchroom, or short speeches or newspaper articles which could be shared with other learners in the school. Discuss whether or not taking such action would be worthwhile, have value to others and be something that learners could do to make a difference.

    8. Put the term "philanthropy" on theboard. Define philanthropy as "giving and sharing, volunteering and private individual action intended for the common good." Ask the learners to decide if they, as students and as a volunteer group, can act for the common good.

    9. Make a plan for carrying out the selected task related to the "Ten Tips for Healthy Eating" and carry through on it. Remind the learners of the importance of acting with sensitivity to their audience in completing their tasks.


    The completed projects can be used as an assessment of learning.

    Cross Curriculum 

    Learners will make a list of "Ten Tips for Healthy Eating" and share the information with other learners through public address announcements, skits, raps, posters, newspaper articles or other techniques.

    Philanthropy Framework

    1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
      1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
        1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
        1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.
    2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
      1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
        1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
      1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
        1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
        1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
        2. Benchmark HS.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.