Better Lunches and Playgrounds

Tired of complaints about crummy cafeteria food and bad playgrounds at your kids’ schools?

Mom Congress moms heard from many education leaders this week who are creating healthier schools. Since more than one-third of school-age kids are either overweight or obese today, healthier choices have become a top priority for many, including Michelle Obama’s Lets Move! campaign. Here are some of the ideas discussed in Mom Congress 2012 on the subject of healthier choices for kids:

Food Fight:

Unhealthy foods in the cafeteria line, including the infamous “pink slime” hamburger filler, are being replaced. Sugary sodas in vending machines have gone away. According to Sean Slade, Director of Heathy School Communities, there are higher nutrition standards in schools now and more resources than ever before. “My Plate,” an initiative that begins next fall, requires fruits and veggies on half the plate and switches chocolate milk to low-fat milk.

Pizza is the number one food served in schools. So some schools are now partnering with retailers to bring in pizza that is more nutritious than frozen pizza and tastes better – including whole wheat pizza with low-fat cheese and pepperoni.

Other schools are even creating fruit and vegetable gardens and using those veggies at lunch. And who takes care of these gardens and learns something in the process? The kids, of course. I love what a Fairfax, Virginia school did with their school community garden.

The Power of Play

KaBoom founder and CEO Darrell Hammon has a dream. He wants to save PLAY and give every child in America access to a great playground. His nonprofit  is doing amazing things to reach these goals every day.

Check out how you can win one of five new $15,000 playgrounds for your school or town. The deadline is May 18th so you still have time to apply. KaBoom just built their 2,000th playground and is also mapping every playground in America. I see a future APP. Find out how you can help map playgrounds here.

Did you know it’s screen free week this week? KaBoom also shares ideas that you can do when you get off this screen. Learn how to save play at your school and read about why it’s so important in Darrell’s book about KaBoom. They even create “adventure” playgrounds that engage kids and inspire play in ways that our “safe” playgrounds don’t.

If your child’s school district isn’t moving in a healthier, “we need play” direction, be a catalyst for change. Demand better choices in the cafeteria and on the playground. Start something new. Sean Slade’s idea on the best way to do that is to team up with like-minded parents.

Sean’s advice: “If you want to go somewhere quickly, go on you own. But if you want to go far, you take someone with you; if you want something sustainable, take partners with you.”

And if you’re looking for the right words to use as you and your friends advocate for change, use my Power of P3 to make it happen.

Comments

  1. Marilyn Burnham says:

    I am so happy that our schools are finally having more nutritious, healthy lunches! Is this because of Michele Obama??!!!!! Probably not. But more important than what are kids put in their mouths at school (which probably only accounts for less than 10% of their overall food intake) is what we serve our children at home, what we stock in our pantry and fridge, and what we eat at restaurants. If you do not want your kids to eat junk, don’t buy it! Try to cut down on fast food to once or twice per month. Eat healthy foods WITH them and sit down to a family dinner at least three times a week. Not only is it good for their physical health but family dinner is good for their mental health. Eliminate the short order cook, “eat on the fly” syndrome. It is a commitment but it will be well worth it. We need to put less responsibility on the school cafeteria to feed our children and more responsibility on ourselves. Yet with all that said I am thrilled that our school lunch program is improving and can be a reinforcer of what we do outside the school.

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