How to Promote Healthy Lunches and Healthy Lifestyles for your Kids
By: Heather Schoenrock
More than 12 percent of U.S. high school students are obese (≥ 95th percentile for body mass index) and 78 percent eat fruits and vegetables less than five times per day, according to a 2009 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The same study indicates that, of the schools surveyed, only 18 percent provide outlets for students to purchase fruits or vegetables at school while 77 percent provide soda for purchase.
While poor nutrition and childhood obesity are critical issues threatening our children’s short and long-term health, proper nutrition helps prevent childhood obesity, promotes physical growth and enhances focus. As a parent, you serve as a teacher and as an advocate in promoting good nutrition for your children; here are four tips:
Support the Child Nutrition Act.
On August 5th, the Senate approved the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act, which will require schools to meet new nutrition guidelines and expand the number of low-income children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Now, the bill is waiting to be passed in the House before the current act expires on September 30. Join the Healthy Schools Campaign and send your message of support (you can forward a letter to your U.S. representative by clicking here).
Pack a lunch.
Until we achieve healthier cafeteria lunches in our schools, packing wholesome bag lunches for your children may be the best option. Sandwiches with fresh deli meats and cheeses on whole-grain breads, hand-held fruits and baby carrots are great foundations. And for sneaky ways to add organic vegetables to kid-friendly dishes, click here: Jack’s Harvest
Be an example.
Set the stage by living a healthy and active lifestyle! If you and your kids are living actively and eating healthfully at home, the little ones are more likely to engage in similar activities at school. Be sure that the snacks and meals available at home are consistent with those you pack for school. Also, take time to introduce your kids to different activities and sports – you never know what activity or sport will strike their fancy at home and then at school.
Educate fellow parents and school administrators.
The School Nutrition Association and Let’sMove.gov offer a variety of materials to assist parents and school administrators in promoting school nutrition programs and healthy school meals.
Heather Schoenrock is founder of Jack’s Harvest and a mother of three. Heather’s interest in childhood nutrition began eight years ago with the birth of her first daughter and, as a result, she created Jack’s Harvest, a frozen, organic baby food company. Heather has led countless childhood nutrition and feeding workshops and serves as an advocate for more nutritious school lunches. Heather actively engages her local community members and school administrators as a proponent of the Child Nutrition Act.