Updated: December 18, 2023
By Erin Braunscheidel Duru , Stephanie K. Grutzmacher , Jinhee Kim , Lisa Lachenmayr , Lauren A. Messina , Carol Miller , Ashley Munger , Meredith Pearson , and Lynn Rubin

EC-4 | 2015

Healthy Cents

The Growing Healthy Habits Curriculum was developed by the University of Maryland Extension, Food Supplement Nutrition Education Program (FSNE) for integrating nutrition through gardening in Maryland elementary classrooms, grades K-5. This curriculum uses gardening as a tool for encouraging students to consume more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and increase physically activity. Growing Healthy Habits provides engaging and exciting nutrition and gardening lessons that reinforce the Maryland Common Core, as well as Environmental Literacy Standards and STEM.

The Healthy Cents curriculum is designed to help limited resource families save money while purchasing healthy food.

The curriculum uses a dialogue learning approach to help participants develop food resource management and food shopping skills Healthy Cents has lessons that focus on five themes:

  • Making Healthy and Affordable Choices
  • Decreasing Food Expenses
  • Developing a Food Spending Plan
  • Planning a Meal
  • Saving Money on Healthy Food Shopping
EC-4 Healty Cents Promotion Flyer

The curriculum provides learners with opportunities to acquire new information and develop practical skills designed to help them:

  • Increase the nutritional value of meals at low or no extra cost
  • Obtain community resources
  • Keep costs low when eating away from home
  • Start a container garden for vegetables and herbs
  • Establish a spending plan
  • Develop a food spending plan
  • Make weekly meal plans
  • Save time and money when shopping for food

During each lesson, participants are encouraged to apply new information in meaningful ways to their own lives. Learners work together during the lessons to develop new skills and share their own insights and strategies. While each lesson is designed to “stand alone,” lesson outcomes are greatest when taught as a series. The curriculum includes a leader’s guide, worksheets, and activity materials for each unit.

After participating in Healthy Cents, participants strongly desire to improve their nutrition and food shopping skills.  Adult participants intend to more frequently:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Consume more fruits and vegetable
  • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time
  • Create and use a grocery list
  • Make single servings from larger quantities of food
  • Eat before shopping to avoid buying extra food items
  • Make unit price comparisons
  • Buy store brands
  • Use coupons