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For National Bike Month, The League of American Bicyclists suggests you “Get Things Rolling in Your Community.” It is also a good time to “get things rolling” for the other part of healthy balance, which is healthy eating choices. Connect physical activity and healthful eating choices for health and well-being.

In the Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletter, find a classroom nutrition activity idea. On the community level, there are ways you can help to set kids up for success. How many ways can you think of now? Everywhere we live, learn, work and play, we make eating choices.

One way you can make a difference is at the concession stand. In the summertime, concession stands at ballparks, the local swimming pool and other “hangouts” for kids become significant sources for snacks. Contact administrators and volunteer to help brainstorm healthy snack suggestions to add to the concession menu. Consider bottled water, 100% juice boxes, low fat yogurt containers, low fat cheese sticks, fresh fruit, whole grain cracker packets or juice popsicles.

When asked to add healthier items, one of the first questions concessions operators raise is “If we make a change, will we lose sales?” The answer is that many concessions operators have had good success by adding healthier options.

Moving into the holiday season, take a look at “where you are” with your own healthy behaviors. Choose this time to reassess and set goals for healthy eating and physical activity.

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Use the Cigna-HKC Mix Six for Healthy Balance Toolkit that focuses on 6 key healthy behaviors to guide you. Click on the Getting Started tab of the digital magazine for the introduction.

Next, click on the right arrow to get to the Personal Healthy Habit Inventory and take time to complete it.

Move on to My Healthy Habit Goals page and think about the goals you would like to achieve from the 6 key healthy behaviors listed.

Use the rest of the toolkit to focus on specific behaviors. Each section provides simple tips and ideas for individuals and families working toward a healthier lifestyle.

Here are three unique ways that school nutrition staff and volunteers learned to help make the healthy choices easier for kids! Find more success stories in our best practices section.Platt County Pre K class (WinCE)

School Nutrition Services Makes a Healthy Impact

Expanding their healthy eating options and offering more choices of vegetables at meals had a healthy impact on fruit and vegetable consumption! The cafeteria created excitement by:

  • Adding healthy message posters on the bulletin board where students stand in lunch line
  • Introducing more choices of fruit daily
  • Offering ranch dressing with fresh vegetables
  • Using the school newsletter and Connect Ed. messages to communicate healthy messages to families

With the changes made, these middle schools students (600 total enrollment) are now eating over 400 more servings combined of fruits and vegetables at lunch each day!

  • More students are taking fresh vegetables – from 20 servings to now 84 servings daily, over four times as many
  • Twice the number of kids now choose fruit or juice with their meals (125+ servings) as compare to the beginning of the school year (60-65 servings)
  • Kids are eating twice as many taco salads for lunch from 100 previously to 200 daily

“Students are eating more vegetables. In the past they took just pizza, now they take pizza and veggie dippers. They are eating more meatless meals. But getting students to eat more fruit at breakfast is a challenge. They drink juice which is OK, but I would like them to eat fruit.”

HKC-CIGNA Making Strides Schools, Jackson Middle School, Orlando, FL, Yaisyry Martinez, School Foodservice Manager

School Cafeteria Increases Fruit/Veggie Eating

Kids who chose healthy foods in the cafeteria at lunch were recognized by having their name recorded on the “Wellness Wall” scroll posted in the cafeteria. In addition, healthy message posters were displayed in the cafeteria and the PTA sponsored breakfast for all kids during testing days, which kept the excitement going!

The efforts were a success with an overall increase of fruit and veggie consumption; for example, “Veggie Dippers” went from 100 to over 200 portions served. Overall lunch participation increased from 550 to slightly under 600 daily, a 10% increase!

The school also introduced a February Wellness Week. Each day, kids participated in different physical activities (like walking on the track) and prizes were offered. In addition, the 5th grade student “news crew” made healthy TV announcements each morning.

“The Making Strides program has made us more aware of getting the message out to kids that we assumed knew it.”

HKC-CIGNA Making Strides School, Moss Park Elementary, Orlando, FL, Deb Wood, School Foodservice manager

Collaboration with School Foodservice

Charles City Elementary was awarded a USDA Fruit/Vegetable grant which provided an opportunity for getting foodservice staff more involved in wellness activities. The grant provided funding that enabled students to taste test, outside of the meal program, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It also was a stimulus in building collaboration with foodservice. Although a great asset, the grant required extra cafeteria time to order the vegetables and fruit, slice or portion the vegetables, deliver them to the classroom, and make sure that the serving schedule was carried out daily in a timely manner.

To provide needed manpower, an enthusiastic volunteer helped prepare and serve the fruits and vegetables. The students loved having the snacks and were always inquisitive about the snack for the day. The volunteer’s creative ideas and interest in nutrition education helped her become a cheerleader for foodservice and provided her with valuable experience.

To provide recognition for the kitchen staff and extend the partnership link to the school children, kitchen and cafeteria tours were given during National Nutrition Month in March. Third and fifth graders watched salads and bread being made, saw the dishwasher in operation, and peeked into the pantry. “This is the best day of my life!” a student commented after touring the kitchen.

Williamsburg Community Health Foundation Grant, Charles City Elementary, Charles City, VA, Kristin Massey, Physical Education Teacher

– See more in our Success Stories section!

It’s so easy and fun to make nutrition education fit into young children’s summer days! A simple formula of: a refreshing nutrition message + an energizing activity + fun for all, is really all you need. I have listed a couple of ideas for you to get Healthy Kids Challenge helps kids eat, move, and enjoy healthy balancestarted with young children (ages 5-7) this week:

Refresh: A good Snack Attack is choosing when, where, and how to snack! Plan your snacks the same time each day, to eat them “screen free”, and from a plate rather than a bag or box.

Energize: Balance snacks with active play, a much better choice than nibbling the time away! Have kids call out their favorite outdoor play activities and for each, have them practice the movements.

Enjoy! Even adults can join in the movements with kids!

Balance My Day K-2 Snack Attack Lesson 1, page 151

Refresh: Eating different colors of fruits and veggies each day helps keep our bodies healthy.

Energize:

  1. Distribute fruit and veggie cards with foods representing all color groups.
  2. Ask everyone to march in place. Observe how, with the same action, every color group looks the same.
  3. One at a time, ask the different color groups to begin a different activity: White-hop; green-reach high and low; yellow/orange-dance the twist; red-windmills; blue/purple-continue marching.
  4. Ask kids to observe the variety of actions. Ask if it looks different compared to when everyone was doing the same thing together. Explain what they are doing now is variety!

Enjoy! Have everyone join in the fun!

Balance My Day K-2 Snack Attack Lesson 5, page 159

Refresh: Smart servings means LESS of high fat and added sugar foods. Demonstrate with 2 cups grapes, 4 ½ cups of carrot strips, and 3 Tbsp of chocolate candies.

Energize: When eating out kids can choose less sugar by 1) choosing a smaller size, 2) choosing water, or 3) sharing with someone else. Ask kids to repeat the 3 things they can choose to do. Call out each one, and ask kids to perform a movement to go along with each:

Smaller size: Go down and get small.
Water: Spell W-A-T-E-R with your body.
Share: Clap hands together with the person to your right.

Practice the movements and then call out the healthy choices 1 or more times.

Enjoy! Make the healthy choice the “cool” choice!

Balance My Day K-2 Snack Attack Lesson 6, page 162

The Learning Connection Report from our partner in health, Action for Healthy Kids, aligns perfectly with our model for the Balance My Daycurriculum and we are thrilled to join them in demonstrating that well-nourished and active kids are better equipped for success!

The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids Are Healthy and Ready to Learn demonstrates that

  • 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.

Platt County Pre K class (WinCE)

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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!
  3. Hand out these free Certificates of Appreciation for School Nutrition Employee Week from LearningZoneXpress. Simply download and print!
  4. Simply offer your school nutrition employees a sincere “Thank you!”

Honoring our special April Healthy Foods Challenges, we have 3 freebies to help you meet those challenges this month. Enjoy!

Red Ripe Strawberries Eat Right with Color

My favorite fruit is red…juicy, summer strawberries!

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?

For the entire April monthly activity instructions, click here. This activity is also found on pages 93-94 of the Balance My Day Nutrition Curriculum-Grades 6-8. One of my favorites!


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Snack Attack Printables!

Grab ‘n Go Snack Ideas

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.

Healthy School Celebration Snack Ideas

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!

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