Student reaching for healthy food in school cafeteria

Schools are working to improve appeal for healthier food choices.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service published a great tool to help schools rejuvenate cafeterias with colorful fruits and vegetables. The toolkit, Fruits & Vegetables Galore: Helping Kids Eat More, provides excellent downloadable resources.

Tips start with creating a plan, getting “buy in” and taking the lead to address a national health problem. There is a whole resource devoted to creating meal appeal.

Other resources provide:

  • Detail for setting up salad bars, prepared salads
  • Marketing and training
  • Developing quality food service

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It has been reported that eating more fruits and vegetables may boost psychological well-being. New research now shows there can be a boost in motivation and vitality in as little as two weeks. That news provides an even greater incentive to include fruit and vegetable intake among the small changes to which we are aspiring during National Nutrition Month®.

Teachers and youth leaders are daily role models for kids. The personal changes made related to healthy eating habits can provide a positive influence in ways you may have not even considered! With these fun and positive employee wellness suggestions, start with fruits and veggies to enhance or develop healthy modeling at your school or program.

  • Place simple fruit and vegetable messages in the staff room and hallways.
  • Take photos of staff with their favorite fruit or vegetable and post. Encourage staff to share how they like to eat it and if there is a favorite recipe of theirs.
  • Have staff share ideas to add more fruits and vegetables to their day. Such as:
    • adding fruit to dry or cooked cereal
    • putting extra vegetables in soups or casseroles or on pizza
    • adding fresh fruits to yogurt
    • making a fruit or vegetable a part of a snack

For the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended for adults each day, refer to MyPlate Daily Checklist. Recommendations vary according to daily calorie needs. For many adults that is around 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables each day.

Help kids connect the happiness of special celebrations with healthy choices.

Fruit and Veggie Snacks

CELEBRATION SNACKS

Popcorn. Low-fat and sprinkle with seasoning.

Parfaits. Low fat yogurt or pudding, fruit, and granola.

Frozen yogurt popsicles. Blenderize low-fat fruited yogurt, berry juice and berries and freeze.

Mini-bagel pizzas. Whole grain bagels halves, pizza sauce, part-skim mozzarella cheese.

Mini waffles. Whole grain frozen waffles, low-fat cream cheese, fruit.

Trail mix. Whole grain low sugar cereals, nuts, seeds, dried fruit.

Fruit kabobs. Alternate seasonal or favorite colors and shapes.

Raw veggies with dip. Different colors, shapes and sizes add appeal.

Chips and salsa. Whole grain chips with veggie or fruit salsa.


CELEBRATION DRINKS

Refreshing, ice cold water

Fruit infused water

Sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice


CELEBRATION ACTIVITIES:

Veggie Taste Testing Fun: Provide familiar raw veggies such as celery, carrot and green pepper sticks, but then provide some unique veggie samples to taste test and rate like sweet potato, jicama, Chinese cabbage, turnips and rhubarb.

Fruit Taste Testing Fun: Provide familiar fresh apple, orange and banana slices, but also include unique fruits like mango, pineapple, berries and star fruit. (Optional: Include dried fruit samples like apricots, cranberries, prunes, and cherries.)

Build your own trail mix: Offer choices of low sugar, whole-grain cereals, seeds or nuts, dried fruits and snack crackers. Kids scoop appropriate serving sizes of their choices into individual plastic baggies.

 

 

iStock_000014176496SmallSeptember is Fruit & Veggie Month so use this easy nutrition lesson below to get kids thinking about eating healthy produce!

Hear – See – Do Activity: Amazing Fruits and Veggies

Help kids hear the message that fruits & veggies are healthy and tasty.
Let them see the variety of fruit & veggie colors.
Let them do by giving them a challenge to complete.

Discussion Points –

Fruits & veggies rule when it comes to great taste and loads of nutrients. See the benefits:

Vitamins and minerals: Different fruits & veggies provide different types and amounts of vitamins and minerals so eating a variety is important.

Fiber: It fills us up so that we don’t overeat and keeps our digestive tract moving along and healthy.

  • Orange fruits and veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe) provide Vitamin A for healthy eyesight, skin and hair.
  • Kiwi fruit, green peppers and oranges provide Vitamin C that heals wounds and keeps gums healthy.

Discussion Questions – Write fruit & veggie colors across the classroom board. Purple/Blue–Green–White–Red–Yellow/Orange

  1. Not counting juice, which fruits & veggies did you have to eat today? Write kids’ responses under the appropriate color groups.
  2. Are there color groups missing?
  3. If you aren’t eating the recommended amounts (at least 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of veggies) every day, do you think you could? How would you do it? (Brainstorm and write answers on the board)
  4. Challenge kids to set one goal that will help them eat more fruits and/or veggies this week.

Adapted from the “Amazing Fruits & Veggies” lesson, Balance My Day™ nutrition curriculum, Grades 3-5

iStock_000009330809XSmallSchool field trips can provide healthy, experience-based education and engaging activities. Check out the Target Field Trip Grants opportunity for funding and schedule a wellness-based field trip for the kids you lead. See ideas below!

Hear – See – Do Activity Ideas

Help kids hear the message that eating healthy food is nourishing and tasty too!

Let them see examples of healthy, tasty food choices at local gardens, grocery stores or food banks.

Let them do by providing interactive activities.

Give kids a chance to touch, feel, smell, see and incorporate all modes of learning with food-related field trips:

  • Grocery stores provide an opportunity to teach about the MyPlate food groups (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Dairy, Protein). Show kids how to read food labels and make healthy food choices.
  • Local farmer’s markets, orchards or gardens offer kids a chance to see a colorful variety of healthy produce and to learn how it is grown.

Incorporate physical activity and community service in a field trip:

  • Schedule a time when kids can assist a local community garden with gardening tasks such as planting or harvesting.
  • Set-up a time when kids can assist a community food bank to unload, shelve or package food items for patrons. Discuss hunger in America and the local organizations working toward solutions.

Fruit Salad Fitness

July 31, 2015

Healthy eating and active play go hand in hand for summer fun! Your preschoolers will enjoy helping to make a “fruit salad” with the movement activity below!

Activity adapted from HKC’s Berry, Berry Good preschool bookletBerry, Berry, Good image
Supplies:

  • fruit colored beanbags or small balls,
  • a large basket or clean trash can,
  • fruit food cards or magazine pictures
  1. Show pictures and name fruits that grow during the summer (strawberries, blueberries, grapes, peaches, oranges, cherries and such). Point out the different fruit colors.
  2. Organize kids into groups of 5 and pass out one beanbag or ball to each child.
  3.  Explain that they are going to help you make a fruit salad by tossing their fruit (ball) into the bowl (basket).
  4. One group at a time, allow kids to toss their balls into the basket and tell what “fruits” they used for their “salad”. Repeat as time allows.
  5. Encourage kids to eat a variety of colorful fruit for good health.

HEAR – SEE – DO For Summer Learning

Help kids hear the message that fruits are colorful and good to eat.

Let them see examples of fruits.

Let them do by providing fun movement activities.

Tomatoes are ripening on the vines, so start a discussion with kids about this HKC printable and diverse vegetable choices!Berry, Berry, Good image

Ahead of time:

Wash and cut small tomato pieces from varying types for tasting samples. Place on a serving tray and set aside.

  1. Ask kids how many different varieties of tomatoes they have seen at the grocery store, a garden or local farmer’s market? List on the board (such as standard round globe, plum, grape,cherry, yellow, green and purple).
  2. One child at a time, present the tomato sample serving tray and let kids pick one sample to taste.
  3. As kids are tasting, share tomato trivia:a.What nutrients do tomatoes have? (Vitamin A, C and the antioxidant, lycopene)

    b.Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”.

  4. Ask kids some of the ways they typically eat tomatoes? (in sandwiches, salads, Mexican food, pasta and pizza sauce).

  5. Discuss other healthy ways to eat tomatoes, such as a snack ( raw cherry tomatoes) or a veggie dip (tomato salsa mixed with low fat yogurt). If time allows, prepare the veggie dip for kids to try.

HEAR – SEE – DO

Help kids hear the message that vegetables come in many different varieties to enjoy.
Let them see different types of tomatoes.
Let them do by providing hands on activities and tasting opportunities.

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