New and Improved School Lunches!

Great news for kids going back to school!  Maria Baca of the Star Tribune reported yesterday that administrators are taking a closer look at the lunchroom and its possible impact on childhood obesity. Students will now have greater access to fruits and vegetables, they will have menu items that are made from scratch and they will limit the amount of carbohydrates offered to children.

Deb Loy is the director of Coordinated School Health, which is part of the Minnesota Department of Education. I loved her quote in this article: “It’s just common sense,” says Loy. “There’s a recognition that the quality of the nutrition is important, for kids to get the essential nutrients that their bodies need for brain development, physical development, attention, moods, energy levels, those kinds of things.” Finally!

In other good news,  Gosia Wasniacka reported on food hubs that working to bring farms and school districts together. “Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, a non-profit cooperative that trains new organic farmers in Salinas, California, is working with the Santa Cruz City Schools to coordinate orders and deliver produce. The district, with 13,000 students, purchases more than half of its produce from local farms.” This encourages cleaner farming practices and the amount of fuel used to transport produce. Another win-win for farmers and students!

I found it interesting that involving the children in the menu choices had a positive impact on their attitude toward the food. Displaying it beautifully and giving them multiple healthy options also resulted in healthier food selections.

Baca shares even better news:  “Minnesota is going a step further, requiring all districts to adopt minimum physical education standards and issuing optional guidelines for ‘active recess.'” Integrating physical activity back in the school day is long overdue. Let’s be honest; anyone who has ever been with kids, babysat or had a younger niece, nephew or sibling knows that kids can’t sit still. And they shouldn’t sit still.  In her book Smart Moves, Dr. Carla Hannaford emphasizes the importantace of movement to learning.

Sir Ken Robinson does a wonderful talk on the importance of learning and movement in which he simultaneously mocks academics who think their body’s only use is to get their heads to meetings. If you haven’t watched his Ted Talk, do so now.

So, great news all around for kids going back to school. Here’s to strong health, improved academics, and increased physical activity during the school day. Bon appetit!

Learn more about the Health Fitness Specialist degree at Globe University.