May 16, 2013
The Learning Connection Report from our partner in health, Action for Healthy Kids, aligns perfectly with our model for the Balance My Day™ curriculum and we are thrilled to join them in demonstrating that well-nourished and active kids are better equipped for success!
- physical activity supports academic achievement,
- well-nourished kids learn better and
- that healthier practices in schools can increase school revenue.
The easy-to-read special report, released in 2013, is a roadmap for parents, educators, school administrators and school volunteers to create healthier school environments so the kids in their lives are better positioned to learn.
It’s a follow-up to Action for Healthy Kids’ landmark 2004 report The Learning Connection: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools.
Read the full report:
Learn more about HKC’s Balance My Day™ nutrition curriculum.
May 2, 2013
Celebrate School Lunch Superhero Day on Friday, May 3rd! The day aims to showcase the ways in which school nutrition professionals make a difference for every child who comes through the cafeteria. It also kicks off the School Nutrition Association’s week long School Nutrition Employee Week, May 6-10, 2013.
Here are a few creative, yet simple, ways to join in the celebration:
- Find simple tips such as the following on SNA’s website: “Announce School Nutrition Employee Week (May 6-10, 2013) on the signs in front of the schools. Make sure that the week is featured on the schools’ calendars and in newsletters. Don’t forget to include the celebration on your menus for the week.”
- Submit your School Lunch Superhero pictures to be featured on the School Meals That Rock Facebook Page. They have already begun showcasing some Superhero Employees and School Districts, and will continue throughout next week. Inspiring!
- Hand out these free Certificates of Appreciation for School Nutrition Employee Week from LearningZoneXpress. Simply download and print!
- Simply offer your school nutrition employees a sincere “Thank you!”
April 11, 2013
Honoring our special April Healthy Foods Challenges, we have 3 freebies to help you meet those challenges this month. Enjoy!
Snack Attack Activity
1. Ask kids to name benefits of snacks containing less fat and less added sugar.
- Help us feel good and feel good about ourselves
- A healthier body weight
- A healthier heart
- Gives more nutrients to do our best in school
2. Discuss why we make the choices we do. Is it because the snacks:
- Taste good?
- Are easy to fix?
- Satisfy hunger or give energy?
- Are what their parents or someone else buys or fixes?
- Are the coolest ones to eat?
TWO Snack Attack Printables!
When on the go, bring along energizing snacks! Whether traveling, camping, or transporting kids to activities, the following ideas are sure to help you satisfy those hunger attacks in a hectic day.
Make the next happy celebration a healthy one too! These snack ideas and activities can be as popular as the traditional high fat and sugar party foods!
March 14, 2013
One of the best strategies to teach kids healthy habits is to be a healthy role model yourself. After all, actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to kids!
So, here are some role modeling tips, based on our Healthy6 key messages that will get you and your kids on the path toward healthy habits for life. And the theme for National Nutrition Month this year is also, Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day; a convenient tie-in to these tips today!
- Fruits and Veggies Every Day. Eat YOUR Veggies! …and your fruits. When kids see you eating them, they’ll be more likely to try them, and like them too.
- Make Smart Serving Size Choices. Serve yourself appropriate portion sizes, and don’t overeat. Also, talk to kids about your own feelings of hunger and fullness to help them learn portion control, too.
- Do Your Own Drink Think. Make ice cold water or skim milk your drink of choice at every meal, and your kids will come to expect it as the norm, not the exception.
- Attack Everyone’s Snacks. Build healthy snacks into your own routine, and sit down and eat them with kids whenever possible.
- Active Play, Balance Everyone’s Day! Get out there and move around with the kids, whether it’s an organized sport, or just free play. Find your own fitness routine and let the kids see you making it a priority every day.
- Build Breakfast into Your Day. When kids see you enjoying breakfast every day, they are more likely to join in and start their day that way too.
What are you doing to Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day throughout the month of March?
February 14, 2013
Try a Frozen Yogurt Fruit Cup for an easy snack recipe during March this year, and join us in celebrating National Nutrition Month 2013!
Frozen Yogurt Fruit Cup
8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt
4 ounces frozen berries, thawed with juice
4 ounces crushed pineapple canned in natural juice, with juice
- Line 6 muffin-tin cups with paper baking cups.
- Dice or mash banana and place in a mixing bowl.
- Stir in remaining ingredients.
- Spoon into muffin cups and freeze at least 3 hours or until firm.
- Before serving, remove paper cups and let stand 10 minutes.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
68 calories 0.6 g fat 0.3 g saturated fat
2.5 mg cholesterol 32.2 mg sodium 2.5 g carbohydrate
14 g dietary fiber 2.8 g protein
Recipe provided courtesy of Eat Right Press, from Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens by Jodie Shield, MEd, RD and Mary Catherine Mullen, MS, RD. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ©2012.
You can find more recipes for National Nutrition Month in the Recipe Handouts section of the web site.
Need more easy snack recipes? Check out these resources!
January 10, 2013
Whether your school is participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge or not, chances are the kids are being introduced to many more fruits and veggies and whole grain servings than they have been used to in the past. So what’s the trick to getting them to EAT those healthy choices? After all, it’s not nutrition unless they eat it…
- Set up the cafeteria for success. Success in helping them choose the healthier options that is. Have you heard of the Lunch Line Redesign? Or Smarter Lunchrooms Movement? Check them out for ideas.
- Spark interest with color. A rainbow of colors make any meal more appealing, and especially for kids. But don’t stop with the menu options. Add color to the walls using posters and bulletin boards, even repainting the cafeteria to make it more inviting.
- Rename the fruits and vegetables. Cooked carrots. Steamed broccoli. Sound appealing? Giving them descriptive names has been shown to help kids get interested in taking them AND eating them! You don’t even have to change how you prep them, just change the name. Examples include: “X-ray vision carrots”, and “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops.”
- Ask the kids for input! When you ask their opinion on healthy options, it gives them ownership in the changes, and they are more likely to eat what they helped create. Start a youth advisory council if you haven’t already, or create a simple contest for naming the cafeteria or a holiday menu. Taste tests are a proven winner!
- Promote, promote, promote. Think like a marketing expert. “Advertise” your healthy options on bright bulletin boards, or with new, colorful name cards. Change the placement of the veggies and fruit on the lunch line so they are offered first rather than last. Switch out stainless steel bowls for colorful options; even stacking a bowl of fruit on top of an upside down bowl gives visual appeal.
Specific action ideas that go along with these suggestions can be found in Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition™, a Healthy Kids Challenge resource. Action ideas are designed to increase interest in healthy eating and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria. Content includes MyPlate, trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments to link with curriculum standards, menu planning tips, and fun ideas for youth advisory councils.
November 29, 2012
- Sign-up for our Wednesday WOWS E-newsletter. Receive simple, easy-to-implement ideas to support healthy eating-physical activity habits for kids. Share the ideas and use them to help put wellness policies into actions.
- Try out a Monthly Activity Idea at a staff meeting and provide the link for interested teachers to get more ideas.
- Recognize teachers who are integrating nutrition and physical activity into daily practices. (Studies show that exercise increases kids’ academic success.) Allow those teachers 10-15 minutes to demonstrate an activity for others.
- Use HKC-CIGNA Mix 6 for Healthy Balance Toolkit for staff wellness, which includes ideas for employers and healthy habit tips handouts for employees.
- Role model healthy choices. For example,
- Add simple stretches or other physical activity during a staff meeting.
- Use a “walk with the principal” (rather than food) to reward students.
November 15, 2012
Education for parents/kids on Healthy6, like eating breakfast, healthy snacks and smart servings
Kids still hungry? Athletes need more?
- Breakfast GO Power – Eat breakfast every day. It helps control appetite all day long.
- Drink Think – Encourage kids to drink their milk or take the calcium-fortified juice that’s offered with their meals. Such a simple way to get more calories, protein and essential nutrients!
- Fruits & Veggies Every Day – Find ways to make the new fruits and veggies tasty and more appealing to kids of all ages.
- Smart Servings – Portions have been distorted for so long that kids AND adults need to smart size their servings.
- Snack Attack – Planning snacks throughout the day is a key way to control hunger for kids of all activity levels.
November 1, 2012
Every challenge is an opportunity to do better. Take school lunch changes for example.
I agree that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to feeding millions of children across thousands of miles. It does present a huge challenge, but working within that challenge is totally possible, and in some cases, hugely successful!
In fact, “public school students, by a 3-to-1 margin, say meals have become better tasting under California’s new nutritional standards.” See: Most Students Give More Healthful State School Menus Thumbs Up
Without going into the specifics here, here are some other positive examples of real schools working within the change to make it work for them:
And last but not least, some supportive feedback and reports from bloggers, news media, nutrition professionals, and parents:
How are you, or your school, finding ways to work within the change? I’m interested in hearing more…
October 11, 2012
It is true. The only constant in life is change. Here’s another truth: Change isn’t easy. So when you try to change 32 million* children’s school lunches all at once, well, you get the idea…it isn’t easy. What is easy though, is celebrating the hundreds of thousands of small, sustainable, healthy ways that schools, parents and kids have already found to adapt to the school lunch changes…and yes, make them a bit easier to swallow!
For starters, how about actually experiencing the guidelines at lunch with your child? Yes, I’m really suggesting you go to school, purchase a school lunch and sit down and eat it with your child. There’s actually a national day called Take Your Parents to Lunch Day, and it’s Wednesday, October 17th. It’s a day to “celebrate what’s great about school lunch – and learn how we can all work together to make it even better.”
And to entice you even more, it’s also National School Lunch Week from October 15th- 19th, 2012. “School Lunch – What’s Cooking?” is about celebrating the positive changes that have been made in school lunch programs across the country. Schools nationwide have been cooking up all sorts of exciting programs and plans.
Okay, I realize you may not be able to make it to school for lunch, and you may just like to know where to get more ideas. Here are 3 to start with:
1. Creative and Healthy Cafeteria Ideas- Healthy Kids Challenge
2. The School Day Just Got Healthier – USDA
3. Healthier School Lunches – Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
Please come back next week and we’ll delve into more real-school examples of how to make the school lunch changes easier. And certainly, if you have a success story of your own, I’d love to share it with our readers.
*Each school day an average of 32 million children eat a USDA school lunch, and 13 million eat a school breakfast.