Ms. Chloe and students smiling for the camera

Though the debate is still ongoing on whether pineapple belongs on pizza, Rochester Public Schools (RPS) students had the opportunity to explore pineapple, learn about where it comes from and how it grows, and consider its nutritional impact. Of course, they had to taste-test the pineapple, too!

Students sitting at their desk tasting pineappleThese lessons are just one of the values that translate to our students from our dietetic internship program. For over 20 years, 75 interns have completed a rotation through RPS in partnership with the Mayo Clinic Dietetic program. Our latest intern, Chloe S., just completed her internship with RPS after a three-week rotation. The collaboration between Mayo Clinic School of Science and RPS was built to help expose dietetic interns to job opportunities they may not have previously known about, especially as the job market for nutritionists and dietitians has blossomed over the last ten years. 

While at RPS, Chloe visited 15 classrooms at Gage Elementary School, where she shared a lesson on pineapple that was both educational and engaging. Studies show that exposing students to fresh fruits and vegetables, including new and different varieties, can increase their food acceptance. This is a key goal of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which fuels student lessons for RPS.

Ms. Chloe standing in front of the classroom with students at their tables and hand raised to answer a question.Chloe chose to do her community rotation at RPS. So, what is so interesting about school nutrition? "In school nutrition, there are so many opportunities to impact students; many outside influences don't always positively impact them. When they are in the school setting, students can get the components of a healthy plate that they might not have available at home, and it allows them to try new foods and focus on a well-rounded diet," Chloe shared. 

From alumni to intern, Chloe also gave an inside perspective from her time as a student on what students or families don't always see. "It's amazing to see the coordination of staff, high level of communication, and level of detail that the SNS staff focuses on to make things run smoothly in terms of planning menus, ordering food, and equipment. From special diets to staff awareness, they really work to accommodate every student." 

Sherri Knutson, coordinator of Student Nutrition Services, emphasized the partnership's importance and the benefits it brings to our schools, the Student Nutrition Services department, and our interns. Nutrition is important and has a life-long impact on all of us.

Though we'll have to wait until next year to meet our next intern, Chloe will be fondly remembered as "Pineapple girl" to our Gage classrooms!