Child Nutrition - School Meals and Beyond

Child Nutrition at School

I thought I'd start off with school time nutrition. Maybe because this is the time when we are not around our kids when they are eating. So we can't be sure that they're actually eating what we send with them. They might be trading it or worse throwing it away. If they're enterprising children perhaps they are selling it.

My kids buy their lunch since they don't like to eat sandwiches all the time but my fourteen year old only bought pizza. From the Little Caesars stand on her middle-school campus and now her high school. Luckily her pallet has expanded and she blends her bought lunch with a sack lunch.

My Younger daughter likes to eat more sack lunches and a variety of the school lunch offerings.

Lunch Programs

Now the school lunch program helps to make sure that your child's nutrition isn't impacted because of your economic situation. The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. These are nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches. This Act has been around since 1946 when President Harry Truman signed it.

Schools also offer breakfast programs and some offer special milk programs. There is also a free fresh fruit and vegetable program in selected low-income elementary schools nationwide.

Strategies To Improve Nutrition at Home

  • Sit down for regular family meals
  • Always have a variety of healthy foods and snacks
  • Eat Healthy yourself and be a role model
  • Avoid battles over food
  • Get your kids involved in the planning process

You're probably looking at that and thinking, "yea, right, like that's gonna happen". And I know how you feel. I've had a real struggle with planning sit down family meals with my girls. At first it wasn't too bad when they lived close by but when they were almost 40 miles away things got more difficult. I never really planned home meals with them during the week since we had to spend about 1 1/2 hours in the car. So would do sit down dinners with them at restaurants. Weekends became more about fast food as we raced from one soccer game to the next or we had to spend the day at a volleyball tournament. Actually the tournaments weren't so bad because we'd set up a picnic style lunch. Practice days is where it would get more shaky.

I know I must be having an impact when I do, do something right. My older daughter wrote a compare/contrast paper her freshman year in high school. It was about me and her mother. She wrote about how I'm always showing them how to eat healthy and exercise and take their vitamins. She never did say what she wrote about her mother.

Side Benefits

Besides keying in on child nutrition, family meals have some side advantages.

  1. Your kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables
  2. Your kids will be less likely to eat unhealthy snacks
  3. And the big one - your kids will be less likely to smoke, use marijuana, or drink alcohol

Let your kids invite a friend over for dinner so that you can get to know who they're hanging out with. Remember that this is a time to share not a time to lecture.

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