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Starting this fall, Hy-Vee, Inc. will provide an innovative curriculum it developed on a variety of nutrition topics for first- and second-grade students in the Sioux City Community Schools. The curriculum includes instruction about the NuVal nutrition ranking system, which rates all foods on a scale of 1 to 100 based on nutritional value.
Peter Streit, manager of perishables at the Gordon Drive Hy-Vee, put the program together with the help of Hy-Vee registered dietitians Sarah Nelson and Lindsay Lannan. The three one-hour courses, which teach basic information about the role of diet in a healthy lifestyle, will be taught in all first- and second-grade classrooms during the 2010-2011 school year.
“Nutrition education is a vital component of health education,” Streit said. “The earlier we start helping children develop good eating habits, the more successful we will be in combating childhood obesity and other health issues related to diet.”
The courses developed for the Sioux City schools incorporate information about the NuVal nutritional scoring system used at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee and other stores throughout the country. NuVal analyzes more than 30 nutrients in foods and assigns each food a score between 1 and 100, with a higher score indicating the greater nutritional value of the food. NuVal scores are found on the shelf tags at participating supermarkets.
Lannan noted that the system has proved to be an excellent tool for helping children develop healthier eating habits. “NuVal is very easy for even young children to understand, because all they have to do is look for a single number on the shelf tag,” she explained. “Choosing healthy foods becomes something of a game for them, which makes nutrition fun instead of a chore.”
“NuVal’s biggest strength is that it reduces complex science about the food we eat into an easy-to-understand system; you get expert advice in a glance,” observed NuVal president Nancy McDermott.
Mary Jo Salem, director of elementary education for the Sioux City Community Schools, said the partnership with Hy-Vee is one example of the ways schools can bridge the gap between what students learn in the classroom and what they experience at home and in the community.
“Providing students with information on the NuVal system and the importance of making healthy choices is a nice way to enrich our health curriculum at the elementary level,” noted Salem.
Hy-Vee representatives recently visited Nodland Elementary School to preview the three nutrition courses that will be presented in all Sioux City public schools next year. The course content and delivery drew positive responses from school officials.
Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates 229 retail stores in eight Midwestern states.