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Ample Table for Everyone: ROOT Camp Curriculum

GrowNYC is partnering with Ample Table for Everyone to bring their Root Camp Curriculum to our middle schools during the 2022-2023 school year.  


ROOT camp is comprised of 10 discrete 45 minute lessons introduced through a series of discussion questions and relevant vocabulary designed to facilitate conversation, followed by a written brainstorm activity. The second half of the lesson is focused on the senses, encouraging children to utilize their hands as their first and most versatile tool, as well as an introduction to basic kitchen utensils and appliances. Lessons include discussions around the connection between food and well-being, food justice, criteria for making decisions, and the rationale for shopping locally and in season. At the conclusion of each lesson, students receive a handout including key takeaways and a glimpse into the next lesson topic to allow them to prepare and ponder. 


Each lesson is accompanied by a cold recipe to assemble and eat in class and a hot recipe for preparation at home. Hands-on cooking provides children with an opportunity to practice learning by doing as well as watching, listening, smelling and tasting. Meal prep can be a joyful ‘family and friends’ activity. Encourage children to learn the skills, names and the tools they need to conduct the recipe, and to try out their new words in conversation between classes. 

Program Description 

The following lessons are designed to be taught by the classroom teacher. The following lesson descriptions include an overview the first half of the class and the two recipes attached to each lesson.  

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Lesson 1 – Orientation: Where am I and Where am I going? 
Lesson 2 – Nourishment: What is it? 
Lesson 3 – Balancing Meals: Timing, Portion Size, and Food Groups 
Lesson 4 – The Role of Sweet & Salty 
Lesson 5 – Why Am I Thirsty? The Role of Water in the Diet 
Lesson 6 – Is There a Diet for Humans? 
Lesson 7 – Eat a Rainbow 
Lesson 8 – How Does Our Environment Affect Our Diet? 
Lesson 9 – Meals for All Seasons 
Lesson 10 – Express Yourself – Through Your Food! 

Lesson 1 – Orientation: Where am I and Where am I going? 

This lesson is an overview of the role of food in daily life. This includes food being necessary for humans' survival as well as its emotional role in celebration, family, and cultural expression. The teacher will introduce how the food we eat impacts our physical and mental health, and discuss with students the many reasons to learn to prepare food. Students complete the Beginning Questionnaire to evaluate their current relationship to food and cooking, to be revisited at the end of the ROOT Camp curriculum.  

In Class Recipe: Apple Wraps 
Take Home Recipe: Orange Oatmeal Pancakes 

Lesson 2 – Nourishment: What is it?  

Students are introduced to the essentials of human wellbeing. The teacher will lead a discussion covering what it means to be healthy, how students know when they are hungry, and what alters their hunger level. Students will consider how food affects them physically and mentally. The class will talk about the difference between living creatures’ needs and wants, and where food fits in. The lesson ends with a reminder to bring in a food label for the next ROOT Camp lesson.  

In Class Recipe: Celery Boats 
Take Home Recipe: Pumpkin Muffins 

Lesson 3 – Balancing Meals: Timing, Portion Size, and Food Groups 

This lesson introduces basic nutrition topics. The session will begin with the students brainstorming about what components make up a balanced meal. They will learn about the differences between the Food Pyramid and MyPlate. The teacher will present units such as calories, protein, and carbohydrates. The students will examine the food labels they brought in and review the categories of nutrients and serving sizes. They will utilize this knowledge to consider the difference between high- and low-quality food. Their homework assignment includes bringing in food labels of prepared foods with many ingredients.  

In Class Recipe: Avocado, Tomato, and Cheese Sandwich 
Take Home Recipe: Pasta with Beans and Greens 

Fruit Market

Lesson 4 – The Role of Sweet & Salty 

In this lesson, students do a deep dive on salty and sugary foods. First, students will think about their favorite salty and sweet snacks. The teacher will lead a guided discussion about why humans add salt and sugar to food, why we crave sugary foods, and the effect of salt and sugar on our health. The group will consider how to consume sugary and salty foods in moderation and strategies for making healthier food choices.


In Class Recipe: Fruity Yogurt Parfait 
Take Home Recipe: Homemade Guacamole 

Glasses of Water

Lesson 5 – Why Am I Thirsty? The Role of Water in the Diet 

Students will learn why water is important to their health and strategies to consume more of it. The session begins with a worksheet to evaluate how much sugar the students are drinking per day and how many minutes of walking needed to burn off the sugar. A main takeaway is the outsized sugar content in beverages. The class then learns how different parts of our body use water to keep us healthy. They discuss the difference between being hydrated and dehydrated using the example of dried fruits. The students will learn ways to stay hydrated.  

In Class Recipe: Infused Water 
Take Home Recipe: Raspberry Lime Fizz 

Lesson 6 – Is There a Diet for Humans? 

This lesson teaches students how humans' digestive systems support their unique nutritional needs. The class begins by exploring how many teeth we have and the function of the different types of teeth. Students use critical thinking to consider how our teeth’s functions are related to our diet. After questioning “what does diet mean?” there is a broader discussion of how diets vary for different animals. Homework for the next session includes visiting the produce section of a store and learning the names of two new vegetables. 


In Class Recipe: Moroccan Carrot Salad 
Take Home Recipe: Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips 

Lesson 7 – Eat a Rainbow 

This lesson investigates the benefits of a diet full of color. The students begin by brainstorming foods that are every color of the rainbow. The teacher will then describe the different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients found in different colored foods. This scientific discussion helps students understand the specific benefits fruits and vegetables have. The students are challenged to eat at least 2 different colors at every meal.  

In Class Recipe: Rainbow Veggies and Pots of Gold 
Take Home Recipe: Veggie and Rice Stir Fry  


Lesson 8 – How Does Our Environment Affect Our Diet?  

Building on what students have already learned about nutrition and diet, this lesson considers how we make decisions on what to eat. We begin by critically considering food advertisements specifically targeted at children. We discuss the impacts of food advertisements and the purpose they serve. The homework assignment for the next session includes visiting a nearby farmer’s market.  

In Class Recipe: Colorful Spiral Roll Ups 
Take Home Recipe: English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich 

Lesson 9 – Meals for All Seasons 

This lesson introduces what eating seasonally means and the benefits of eating in season. The students begin by reviewing a chart of seasonal produce in New York. The teacher leads a discussion on benefits to the consumer, farmer, and environment of eating seasonally. This includes the benefits of farmer’s markets to producers and consumers. This lesson includes a map of all of the farmer’s markets in New York City and encourages students to find the market closest to their home or school.  

In Class Recipe: Apple Salad with Cinnamon and Walnuts 
Take Home Recipe: Baked Apples 

Apples in a Crate

Lesson 10 – Express Yourself – Through Your Food!  

ROOT Camp concludes with students discussing their personal relationship with food. This includes talking about what foods their families eat and how food is related to their culture, history, and memories. The students will complete the Ending Questionnaire and compare it with the Beginning Questionnaire. While enjoying a final celebration snack, they can continue to critically think about what they put in their bodies and how it will affect their mood, energy level, and health.  

In Class Recipe: Celebration Trail Mix 
Take Home Recipe: Banana Chocolate Pudding 

To receive more information about Root Camp, please sign up here.  

Root Camp is supported by a grant from Ample Table for Everyone.

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