Monday, October 15, 2012

National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day

Wednesday October 17th is National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day. This is a great time for those who have children in school, to not only get to spend some special time with them, but to also see first hand what food they are being served at school.
For so long, the lunches at schools across America were going down hill fast. School were serving so much junk food, soda, and sugary drinks, it is no surprise that the children of our country have serious obesity issues. Recently schools across America have taken the steps to improve the food they offer children during the school day. Schools have started baning and eliminating certain  foods from the lunch menu. This is one of the best decisions schools can be making. Lunch is such a crucial meal for these kids. What they eat plays a huge role in a child's ability to learn. Allowing them to eat junk food, and too much sugar, etc, can  negatively effect learning ability. Children can become tired shortly after eating an unbalanced meal , and can have a hard time concentrating on their school work. By feeding a child a well balanced nutritional meal, we are ensuring that the body will have the nutrients and energy it needs to stay awake and alert for the rest of the school day.
As our daughter entered first grade, it didn't even cross my mind that I would allow her to buy her lunch at school. I was so put off by what I had seen being served in the schools, there was no way I would allow her to buy lunch. But then updated information regarding the nutrition program came home in her backpack one day. I was so surprised and impressed with all the changes our district had been making over the past few years. They had done a complete overhaul on the program, I had a complete change of heart, and we now allow our daughter to buy lunch at school everyday..
Here is an excerpt from our school's Student Wellness Policy:

Meals served through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs will:
• be appealing and attractive to children;
• be served in clean and pleasant settings;
• meet, at a minimum, nutrition requirements established by local, state, and federal statutes and regulations;
• offer whole grains when possible;
• offer a variety of fruits and vegetables; and
• serve only low-fat (1%) and fat-free milk 
The district also changed the policies when it came to bringing in food to the classroom for a birthday or class party. Below are the guidelines for bringing in outside food for parties:

 Celebrations/classroom parties offering food
Food items:
• Not more than 35% of its total calories shall be from fat.
• Not more than 10% of its total calories shall be from saturated fat.
• Not more that 35% of its total weight shall be composed of sugar, including naturally occurring and added sugar.
• Exemptions are nuts, nut butters, seeds, cheese packaged for individual sale, fruits& vegetables that have not been deep fried, and legumes.
Fruit-based and vegetable-based drinks that are at least 50% fruit juice without added
• Drinking water without added sweeteners.
• Milk products including 2%, 1% nonfat, soy, rice and other similar non-dairy milk
• An electrolyte replacement beverage that contains no more than 42 grams of added
sweetener per 20-ounce serving.
*Items offered must be commercially prepared, and stable at room temperature unless proper cold/hot temperatures can be maintained.

As you can see it eliminated a lot of junk, sugar, and processed foods. I am not at all opposed to my daughter having a cupcake to celebrate a classmates birthday party. But I find it reassuring that they have implemented strict guidelines and measures to ensure that it does not happen on a daily basis. Our school also provides a monthly lunch menu so we know exactly what foods are being offered on any particular day. They also provide a nutritional breakdown per food item served, as well as an ingredients list per food item. What amazing sources our district has provided for us. As a parent, this eases my mind knowing my child is getting a well balanced meal everyday at school.
On Wednesday, I already happen to be volunteering in my daughter's class. Even though I already have a food menu and good understanding of what is being served in her school,I will be staying the extra 45 minutes to have lunch with her so I can see first hand what the food is like. Not to mention, any time I can squeeze in some extra one on one time with my girl, is a win-win scenario. I encourage you as a parent to take an active role in participating in this nation wide event. Not only will your child LOVE getting to have a special meal with mom or dad, it will also show the school that you care about what your child is eating, and that you are taking the steps needed to make a change in their school if needed. Below is a link to some great resources that can help make your lunch day with your child a success. We as parents have to do whatever it takes to ensure that our children are being provided with a healthy and nutritional meal during some of the most important hours during their day. Have fun, and enjoy the day with your child.

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