As kids head back to school, moms know how important it is to make sure they’re getting a healthy school lunch and nutritious snacks every day. For added incentive, September is also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Luckily, since President Obama passed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, schools have made huge strides toward improving the food options they offer. According to the Environmental Working Group, “In 2014, about 80 percent of schools offered two or more vegetables and two or more fruits for lunch daily. Compared with 2000, that’s an almost 30 percent increase in the number of schools offering the vegetables and a 15 percent jump in the number offering the fruit.” The act expires at the end of this month, so the first step you can take is to encourage your Congressman to vote to refund this great initiative!
Read Related: Healthy Lunch Packing Tips
Coming up with your own nutritious school lunch menu to pack every day can be pretty challenging. An excellent way to ensure you’re meeting the daily requirements is to follow the same USDA guidelines as the National School Lunch Program. Make it even easier and get your kids involved in the planning with LaLa Lunchbox. This fantastic app allows children to choose what they want to eat based on food groups and it creates a grocery list for mom. Love it!
Once you’ve created the perfect school lunch menu, don’t undermine it by using the wrong lunch box or creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Home Food Safety has a great tip sheet to help you properly prepare and pack foods. Get a lunch box that is insulated, BPA-free, seals tightly, has compartments and is reusable. The Organised Housewife has an awesome guide for choosing the best lunch box for your needs.
Even if your kids don’t participate in a school lunch program, they’re influenced by what other kids are eating and what schools are serving. Make it a point to get involved and encourage your school to participate in some amazing programs like the National Farm to School Network or Michelle Obama’s new initiative, Chefs Move to Schools. The Farm to School Network helps school cafeterias serve more locally sourced food and educates kids about agriculture and nutrition as well as creating school gardens. Chefs Move to Schools partners professional chefs with schools so they can help with meal planning and culinary education.
Finally, healthy eating habits start at home. If your kids are eating tons of sugar and junk food at home, they certainly won’t opt for fruits and veggies at school. And moms, you’ve got to practice what you preach and be a nutrition role model or they won’t be very inclined to resist temptation when you’re not around.