Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

Healthy Eating Choices

Ideas for cafeteria, vending, fundraisers, and other environments to make it easier to choose healthy options.

  • 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

  • School Cafeteria Increases Fruit/Veggie Eating

Kids who choose 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 this year. 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

  • School Foodservice 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:CIGNA logo

  • 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

  • Positive Attitudes for Fruits/Veggies

A USDA Fruit/Vegetable grant enabled the school to provide student taste tests of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables allowing 400 students to try about 100 different varieties of fruits and vegetables in their classroom during a 6 month period.girls with pinwheel outside

Nutrition education was provided by the VA Cooperative Extension agent or PE teacher during the students’ PE class. The nutrition messages were reinforced on bulletin boards in the hallways and projects in art class.

  • At the beginning of the school year students were neutral to hesitant about having fruits and vegetables for snacks during the school day. At the end of the school year 90-95% were excited about receiving them at snack times.
  • Students demonstrated more positive attitudes about trying the unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. When asked to name a variety of snacks, students name fruits and vegetables primarily.
  • Parents have shared that their children are trying more fruits and vegetables at home.
Scheduling the serving of the fruit and vegetables within the school day for each classroom took negotiation and planning with the classroom teachers and school foodservice.
Williamsburg Community Health Foundation Grant, Charles City Elementary, Charles City, VA, Kristin Massey, Physical Education Teacher