It is becoming increasingly difficult to provide children with healthy foods, especially for those school aged children. Providing nutrition at school has not become a hot topic and schools’ are beginning to change menus, and provide more eating options for children. School’s that provide breakfast and lunch have been hit hard with what they are feeding children at school. With childhood obesity increasing, many parents have become concerned about what kind of foods are being provided for school breakfast and lunch programs. And although good eating habits start within the home, nutrition at school is a big issue.
Good nutrition during the school aged years is a vital key to helping children grow and learn at their best. Nutritious eating and healthy food choices give children the energy they need to get through their day of academic and physical activities. Primary age school children are at a critical stage in their life as they will begin to start making their own food choices. As parents try to teach their children about nutrition, they expect the schools to do the same, by offering the children some healthy food choices; not just French fries and gravy. In understanding and implementing nutrition at school, you as a parent may have to take more of an active role than you might like to. In defense of a school’s meal planners and cooks, it is extremely difficult to make healthy nutritious meals for hundreds and sometimes thousands of students. And some schools have seen that when they change their menu to something that may be a little healthier, kids won’t eat it. It’s a waste of money and food. So what about nutrition at school? Is it possible?
It may not be possible (as a parent) to have much control over what the cafeteria is cooking, but you can definitely put in your two cents. If you have the time you can make some helpful suggestions to the school board or principal on how to provide the children with some healthy choices. You’re not asking anyone to change the menu; you’re just giving the kids a few extra choices. Let’s start some breakfast basics as breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Most school’s are concerned for the welfare of their students want to give them a good start; especially those who do not have a chance to eat breakfast before they get to school. Eating breakfast will help children meet many important nutritional needs that they will need to get through the day. Here are some suggestions you can make to help provide nutrition at school:
•Provide children with wholegrain bread instead of white as it has less sugar and more nutritional value to it. Bagels, toast, and English muffins are all healthier breakfast choices than cold cereal.
•Give children some choices of fruit or yogurt. Both provide nutrition for the body, and you could even mix them together to provide a healthy, yummy smoothie that kid’s love.
•Breakfast wraps using eggs, peanut butter, or fruit slices are also another way to provide some nutrition in the morning.
•Suggest that they provide milk and water as well as some juices for children to drink. Most fruit juices have a lot of sugar, so drinking milk or water will give the body a better start; not just a hyperactive start.
There are two other areas where nutrition can be reinforced in the school; healthy snacking, and lunches. Many schools use to provide healthy snacks for kids during the day and this may be an opportunity for you to get your foot in the door. If you really want to make a change, volunteer yourself to bring in some healthy snacks for kids to try. Snacking gives kids the fuel they need between meals and prevents them from becoming so hungry that they eat way too much at lunch or dinner time. Always make sure it’s ok with the principal first and you may even ask if they have the budget to help you, but providing healthy snack is a great way to bring nutrition into school.
Most school’s do the best they can with what they’re given and are usually open to suggestions on how to help their students perform at their best. Nutrition at school is one way of doing so, but it may take some extra effort and time to get the ball rolling.