Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

It's Time for Healthy School Lunches

Healthy school lunches are a major component of solving the childhood obesity issue.  As with many potential solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic, it is up to all of us to work together – schools, organizations, parents, to name only a few – to produce healthy, yet tasty, school lunches for our children. 

For schools, we know the U.S. Senate has passed a $4.5 billion bill, S. 3307 the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires healthier school meals and snacks.  The House bill, H.R. 5504 - Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act, has been described as improving meal quality, expanding access and filling nutritional gaps by the House Committee on Education and Labor.  These are undeniably important pieces of legislation for our entire nation of children, but I have to say they are only a first step because Congress has not acted yet to pass anything into law.  After that occurs, and I believe it will, it will be up to the USDA to decide the details such as what the National School Lunch program standards will look like from now on.  I’ve already blogged about the outdated standards and just one simple solution we offer for school meal programs here: Solutions:  School Meal Policies

Some interesting healthy school lunch articles recently include:

1.  School Nutrition: Healthier Ingredients, More Education For 2010-11

2.  Fresh Fruits, Vegetables For 188 Illinois Schools

3.  A Nibble Here, and a Nibble There

All this says that school lunch is a hot topic, and at the risk of repeating myself, it’s going to take all of us working together to get it right.  So, let’s move away from the schools themselves for now and look at some organizations who are already taking action. 

Of course I have to mention your very own Healthy Kids Challenge has resources, success stories, such as School Foodservice Makes a Healthy Impact, and can provide training to help make school lunches healthy.  Others include the School Nutrition Association’s new website Tray Talk.  It features school nutrition success stories, and they want you to sign up for updates on how Tray Talk works with parents and partners to provide the best possible school meals.  Have I mentioned working together somewhere before?  Now, give just 2 minutes and 11 seconds of your day for an absolutely inspiring Tray Talk video.

Finally, parents, do you need some ideas for healthy school lunches?  Here are 3 simple tips:

1.  Include foods from at least 3 different food groups:  Lean protein foods, whole-grains, and a fruit and/or vegetable.

2.  Involve the kids.  Involving kids in making lunch choices, and even preparation, increases the likelihood the lunch will be eaten.

3.  Keep a list of simple meal ideas handy, such as the ones on Colorful Plates 

Let's work together everybody.  Let's Move!