Soup’s On: Lunch Box Ideas

Lunch Box Ideas

It’s back to school time, and that means the family meal schedule – whatever it’s been since the end of June – is about to take a left-turn swerve into school lunches, after school snacks, and many, many exasperated conversations about where lunch boxes get left and why we don’t get to have what every single other child on planet Earth gets to have for lunch.

Here are some guidelines that I use with the families I work with when it comes to school lunches… Read the rest of this entry »

Green Mama: Healthy School Lunches Begin at Home

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

Back-to-School Means Back to Healthy Eating for this Family

It’s just about that time again. Time for alarm clocks and protests to sleep “just one more minute.” Time for grumbles over homework and carpools to sport’s practices. Time for frazzled parents and days where the schedule dictates your life. (Cue scream.)

Yes folks, the vacation’s over. It’s back-to-school time!

Take a deep breathe and you can almost smell the nervousness, anticipation and excitement in the air. And that’s just what some parents are exuding into the environment. What about the kids?

School is a touchy subject. Everybody has an opinion — about teachers, MCAS, the abundance of homework, the lack of homework, the importance of recess, the elimination of recess and most recently, the state of school lunchrooms.

There has been a strong movement in the United States, since Mrs. Obama started her Let’s Move campaign to address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, to revamp school lunch programs. In April I spoke to Josh Viertel, the president of Slow Food USA a grassroots organization that, according to its website, “envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.” Viertel spoke to me about the organizations Time for Lunch campaign which advocates for changes in the Child Nutrition Act, the piece of legislation that is responsible for funding and establishing guidelines for the National School Lunch Program.

“School lunch administrators, nutrition directors, lunch ladies … they want to feed kids food that makes them healthy and that tastes good but they really have their hands tied because of federal funding,” Viertel said. “Schools get on average less than a dollar a day per lunch to spend on ingredients, which makes it really impossible to serve food that’s good for kids.”

Viertel and his organization members are not the only ones who headed to Washington this year to address this issue.

Rachael Ray made a trip to the Capitol in May to plead her case. In an interview with Nightline’s Cythia McFadden posted on Ray’s Yum-o.org website she commented on the importance of this bill for kid’s education: “It’s an opportunity to really level the playing field, no matter what socioeconomic background a kid comes from,” Rachael said. “When they are in school they (can) have access — all of them — to good nutrition if we the adults provide it for them.”

I am a firm believer in revamping the school lunch programs in our schools. Afterall, I am guilty of throwing the organic eating out the window during the school day and allowing my children to purchase the all-too-often unhealthy school lunches. But I also don’t want to put too much emphasis on the school’s responsibility in all this. Yes, they are responsible for feeding our children the healthiest, most nutritious food they can with the funding they have available to them, but so are we parents.

“Nutrition and healthy nutrition has everything to do with the success or the struggle that (your child) will have,” said Izzy Lenihan, a Pittsfield-based life, career and wellness coach and mother of two, in recent interview.

In the interview Lenihan discussed the importance of sending your child off to school with a good breakfast in their belly because if you don’t, she said, “there’s an indication that you’re already starting him (or her) off for failure.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Packing Local Lunches 101

Packing Local Lunches 101
By CISA

Packing your child’s lunch every day can be a challenge. Below are some tips for cutting down on costs, time, and energy you put into your child’s brown bagged lunch-and adding some locally grown goods!

  1. Most importantly, keep it simple. Making lunch for your child doesn’t have to be a struggle or a competitive sport. Just be sure you’re including a good variety: a fruit, a vegetable, a protein, and a whole grain.
  2. Cut extra raw vegetables when you are making dinner, and then toss them into small containers for the kid’s lunch. The cut veggies should keep well in the fridge, so cut enough for a few days of snacks. Want to be sure they eat their vegetables? Include a dip, hummus, or goat cheese they enjoy for dipping the veggies in.
  3. Children are almost universally drawn to the sweetness of fresh, local fruits and berries. When fresh fruit is available, pack small containers with ready-to-eat fruits. Consider slicing apples and pears into wedges, as many kids prefer the bite sized pieces. To prevent browning in the lunchbox, add a little lemon juice. When fresh fruits aren’t in season, you can rely on frozen fruits to do the job. An overabundance of fruit in the growing season can easily be transformed into frozen treats for later in the year. Frozen fruit makes a great lunch treat for you or the kids, particularly mixed into yogurt or with long- storing fruits such as apples.
  4. Take your child to the farm. Go to a farmstand or farmers’ market with your children and let them help pick out their fruits and vegetables. Kids that participate in growing, choosing, or cooking the food they’re served are much more likely to eat it. Pick your own fruits are a great way to involve the kids in putting their lunches together. At the farmstand, you can sometimes hand pick the size of apples or peaches – small for kids, and larger for adults.
  5. The more colors the better! Entice your child’s interest in lunch by providing a variety of colors in their meal, thereby magically turning it into “Rainbow Meal!” Likewise, you can highlight a fruit and vegetable of a different color each day of the week so that your child will always be wondering what is special in their lunch for Red Monday, Green Thursday, or Purple Friday. Or, if you’re up for a challenge, try to create a few meals where the majority of the contents are one color- make it Monochrome Mondays with a different color each week!

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