College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Nutrition Student's Practicum Project Influences Long-term Changing in Prince William County Public Schools

May 9, 2016

Casey Cornell, a master of science in nutrition candidate graduating this May, is passionate about children’s health and well-being. So when it came time for her practicum, she decided to leverage her work at Prince William County Public Schools in health and physical education and gain experience in the county schools’ food and nutrition services.

“Physical inactivity and poor nutrition are the two main causes of childhood obesity,” Cornell said. “I wanted to combine my work in health and physical education with nutrition so that I can better educate my students to not only learn how to be active, but also how to eat to stay healthy.”

Cornell’s practicum led her to work with Serena Suthers, director of food and nutrition services at Prince William County Public Schools. Cornell’s idea for her project was to expand on her school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides students with a fruit or vegetable each school day.

“When I first was involved with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, I realized the students were not getting a lot of information about the fruit or vegetable they were taking home,” Cornell said. “I decided to make up a game of tag in which tagged students had to come eat the fruit or vegetable of the day to be ‘healthy’ to re-enter the game. Nearly all of the 50 students finished their vegetable.”

After this experience, Cornell approached Suthers with the idea of creating various lesson plans that coincided with each of the fruits and vegetables given to students in the program. Cornell’s plans worked so well that the plans are now available to all public schools within Prince William County.

“I am firm believer that children learn better through movement and game play than just reading a PowerPoint or handout,” Cornell said