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Healthy Food Ideas for Schools Get an A+
It starts with a cupcake, and then maybe a cup of punch, followed by a cookie or two. Next thing you know, the kids have gone overboard at the school celebrations, and the “sometimes” food becomes a habit for the rest of the year. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parents, grandparents and community members can all help schools and other settings become healthier places.
Kaiser Permanente Southern California Thriving Schools wants to be part of the solution. This simple seasonal calendar of ideas offers some alternatives to party fare, with all the fun, just not as much of the unhealthy stuff. We encourage you to share it with your schools, day care providers, parent-teacher associations, youth groups, and other places where kids eat. The suggestions are simple and free or low-cost. They include:
- Rewarding students and celebrating special events using school supplies, stickers and toys in goodie bags instead of food; asking parents, staff and students for their favorite healthy recipe suggestions; and having a dance party, extra recess or other way to get kids moving.
- Participating in a Fire Up Your Feet activity: Your school can earn financial rewards. You can sign up for the 2014 Fall Activity Challenge the entire month of October.
- Hold a healthy school fundraiser—instead of selling candy bars and other sweets, try water bottles, stationary, greeting cards, fruit baskets, jewelry, first aid kits or plants.
- Teaching kids simple, healthy and fun recipes for their lunches and showing them healthy alternatives for snacks.
- Getting kids in the habit of eating a healthy breakfast every day.
- Ensuring school vending machine items include healthy options such as low-salt, low-calorie beverages and snacks; unsweetened fruit and nuts; and items with fewer than 35 percent of calories from fat and zero trans fats.
- Asking for access to the gym during lunch hours, evenings or weekends.
- Evaluating classroom incentives: Reward students with a dance party or lunch with the teacher. (Bad day? Instead of assigning pushups or withholding recess, try cleaning, writing a letter of apology or extra homework.)
Thriving Schools is taking a holistic approach to wellness for kids, teachers and school staff. We want to make the healthy choice the easy choice, whether it’s getting fresh fruits and vegetables into the cafeteria or creating more opportunities for play and exercise.