Families

Healthy food provides foundation for successful students

Students enjoy lunch during Taste Washington Day at Sunnyland Elementary School in Bellingham in 2014. Their healthy meal was sourced from local producers.
Students enjoy lunch during Taste Washington Day at Sunnyland Elementary School in Bellingham in 2014. Their healthy meal was sourced from local producers. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

It is not the school lunch you remember!

September is here and our children are heading back to school. They need a lot of energy to do all of that thinking and learning. Consider taking advantage of your school’s breakfast and lunch program to help then get through their day successfully.

How does a turkey veggie wrap or chicken Caesar salad sound? Thanks to the dedication of our school food service directors and staff, lunch offerings are better than ever. Your student will discover more fruits, vegetables and whole grains at every meal. Salad bars are finding their way into all levels, including elementary schools, providing a variety of fruits, vegetables and beans that children can use to create a healthy salad and garnish their entrée. Add low-fat or non-fat milk and a protein source of either lean meat or beans and you have a healthy, complete meal.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act set a new standard for the meals we feed our children during the school day. School lunches now have less unhealthy fat and salt, offer low- and non-fat dairy, provide double the fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and nutrient-rich foods.

Read more about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act here: http://cspinet.org/nutritionpolicy/back2school.html or https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/Child_Nutrition_Fact_Sheet_12_10_10.pdf

Children often need encouragement to try new foods. Schools that provide nutrition education, taste-testing opportunities and involve students in the process of choosing what to serve have students that eat more fruits, vegetables and drink more milk. In addition, schools can increase the likelihood that students will eat the healthy food offered by flipping the schedule, providing recess before lunch. Finally, smarter lunchroom design suggests that a few simple changes in the design of the cafeteria and lunch line will make the healthy choice the easy choice. Read more about the smarter lunchroom movement at http://smarterlunchrooms.org/.

Want to get involved? If you have the time:

▪ Join your child for lunch and help her try some of the new foods offered;

▪ Ask to become a member of your school or district’s wellness committee;

▪ Engage your child in preparing healthy foods at home so he is familiar with the food in the cafeteria;

▪ Offer to help with sampling opportunities in your child’s cafeteria;

▪ In the Bellingham School District, consider joining the Farm to School Advisory Group. You can find information about what they do at https://bellinghamschools.org/farm-school-advisory-group

Our children deserve the best we can give them. Healthy food served in schools for breakfast and lunch provide the foundation our children need to think, learn and be successful, happy students.

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