‘Produce-ing’ Better Nutrition in Kids Meals

‘Produce-ing’ Better Nutrition in Kids Meals

Food & Drink

‘Produce-ing’ Better Nutrition in Kids Meals

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In the last few years, Americans have become more health conscious and that has led many parents to pay closer attention to what they are feeding their kids. According to an article published in USAToday, giving cookies as a snack is on the decline and fruit has become the number one snack item parents offer to children under the age of six. It’s clear that parents are increasingly taking their children’s nutrition more seriously.

Parents are not the only ones getting into the act on kids’ nutrition. First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign has received a lot of media coverage since its February launch. The program goals of getting more healthful foods in schools, more accurate food labeling and increased efforts to get more physical activity in children’s routines were enthusiastically supported by School Nutrition Association (SNA) leadership, during their March testimony in front of the House Education & Labor Committee hearings.

Trade associations such as the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) see opportunities to help their growing foodservice membership become more proactive and engaged in these efforts as well. In a partnership with Scholastic publishing, PMA offers the “Crunch the Numbers”:http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/unitplan.jsp?id=277&FullBreadCrumb=%3Ca+href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.scholastic.com%2Fbrowse%2Fsearch%2F%3Fquery%3Dcrunch%2Bthe%2Bnumbers%26Ntt%3Dcrunch%2Bthe%2Bnumbers%26Ntk%3DSCHL30_SI%26Ntx%3Dmode%2Bmatchallpartial%26N%3D0%26_N%3Dfff%22+class%3D%22endecaAll%22%3EAll+Results%3C%2Fa%3E program to teachers. The program targets grades 3-4, and includes math-based tools, study guides and lesson plans for the classroom. There are also materials the kids are urged to bring home to parents so the whole family can discuss ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into family meals.

‘The program has been very highly rated by teachers as being easy, turnkey and loved by both parents and kids,’ says Julia Stewart, Director of Public Relations for the PMA. ‘We’ve had a great reception to the program, and Scholastic has a great reputation with educators nationwide. We look forward to working with them to introduce other programs in support of teaching kids these key healthy habits for life.’

The Produce for Better Health Foundation and an off-shoot Produce for Kids web sites are good consumer sites for all types of information on how to get kids interested in fresh produce. Included are menu and shopping tips, and a Q&A section where users can ask a nutritionist or post on the blog and interact with other parents.

Fun & Games for Kids

The Produce for Kids site has a kids’ section that features games and activities and kid-friendly recipes. Parents can find shopping tips on seasonal items and ways to involve their kids in shopping for fruits and vegetables. Teachers can download information that can be used in lesson plans, plus black and white line art pictures for kids to color, kid-friendly USDA Food Pyramids and more.

Have a fussy eater at your table? Try these kid-friendly favorites from the website.

The Top 10 Fruit Snacks for Kids include:

1. Frozen fruit chunks- such as grapes, banana slices, blueberries or watermelon
2. Fresh fruit dipped in salad dressings such as poppy seed or balsamic vinegar
3. Dried fruits such as raisins, blueberries, apricots, apple slices
4. Fresh fruit dipped in applesauce
5. Canned fruit or single serve fruit cups
6. Smoothies made with fruit
7. Fresh fruit dipped in low fat yogurt
8. Fresh fruit with a dab of peanut butter
9. Fruit sandwiches- slices of apples or pears with a filling of low fat cheese
10. 100 % juice popsicles

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