Are your kids getting a healthy lunch at school? If they have snack and beverage vending machines, maybe not. A recent study surveyed over 4,000 middle school kids from Florida. Eighteen percent of the kids chose having a beverage and snack from the vending machines instead of lunch on at least three of the five days in the previous week. If there was a snack and beverage machine, 19 percent chose the vending machines. Kids who were smokers, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, or those who were older were also more likely to choose the snack/beverage over lunch.
What does that say about our kids’ health? With childhood obesity on the rise, we can bet they’re getting plenty of calories, sugar and salt but minimal real nutrition. Hopefully, the new Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and the other numerous child nutrition and physical activity programs nationwide will help address them. There’s hope school lunches will get a makeover to include more “home-cooked” meals, vegetables and whole grains.
If you want to get involved as a parent, here are some ideas:
- Talk to the school about their lunch program, snacks and vending machines.
- Join your child’s school Wellness Program. If they don’t have one, start one yourself.
- Visit the Let’s Move! website for ideas on how to make change in your community and provide your kids with healthy nutrition and physical activity.
- Join the Food Revolution and find ways to get involved and make an impact.
Above all, talk to your kids about the importance of nutrition for a healthy, energetic life. You can involve them in planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking and gardening if possible. Teaching them about nutrition at a young age will impact them for the rest of their lives. And when they go to school, they’ll know to choose lunch over chips and soda.