Whether You Order or Pack Your Child's Lunch: Think Healthy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2013
Offer Tips This National School Lunch Week
CHARLES, Ill. – A healthy lunch keeps children engaged in afternoon learning
and afterschool activities. Whether those lunches are from the school cafeteria
or are sent from home, University of Illinois Extension Educators offer some
tips for success during this National School Lunch Week.
packing a lunch or choosing a lunch, you and your child could begin with a
fruit, vegetable, and lean protein," said Laura Barr, University of Illinois
Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator for DuPage, Kane and Kendall
counties. "Dairy and whole grains also are important components to a
of Illinois Extension recommends modeling MyPlate, the USDA nutritional visual
aid that features proper portions of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and
protein divided into sections on a plate.
chicken or beans make great lean protein choices at lunch," said Jessica
Gadomski, University of Illinois Extension Educator, representing the Illinois
Nutrition Education Program in DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. "Food is our
fuel. Much like a car, what we put in our bodies helps us function properly.
Healthy foods help us not only move but think."
School Lunch Week is October 14 to 18 this year, and it provides the
opportunity to highlight key changes to meals being served at schools this
school lunches will be making half the grains offered whole grains and offering
daily fruits and vegetables, said Gadomski, who also added that this week
serves as a reminder for families preparing lunches at home to think healthy
following a model like MyPlate, both parents and children can understand what
foods, and how much of each, make up a healthy lunch," Gadomski explained.
"Involve your children when making lunch choices and continue to engage them
with dinner decisions. This will help them better comprehend what good choices
look like so they can make them on their own."
suggests posting the monthly school lunch calendar or making a packed-lunch
schedule to help include the children in planning; to help vary colors, shapes
and textures of choices; and to help rotate foods.
carbohydrate-heavy lunch digests quicker, and your child will be hungry
sooner," Barr said. "Healthy proteins will slow the release of energy, keeping
the body satisfied longer through the afternoon."
ideas include lean meats, beans, cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs or yogurt.
Whether packing or picking from a menu, children should be encouraged to choose
a variety of food groups, as well as change up their choices within those food
lunches can provide a great opportunity for children to try new things," said
Barr. "'Polite bites' are a good way to get them to test new foods, while being
respectful of their tastes."
may need to try a new food up to 10 times to decide if they like it, Barr said.
Parents, school staff or food-service personnel should not to be discouraged if
a student does not enjoy a food the first time, and they should continue to
offer students new foods and recipes.
do not overload a lunch with unfamiliar choices. "If they don't eat anything in
a healthy lunch, then that isn't healthy either," Barr said.
Send it Safely
also advises parents to safely pack lunches brought from home. "If any foods
are perishable, such as yogurt, deli meat or cheese, they should be packed in
an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack," Barr said.
may help to include frozen lunch components – such as yogurt, juice or water –
that will thaw and help keep the foods at a safe, cold temperature, she added.
encourages parents to do an at-home experiment on a weekend to determine if
their current food-packing method is safe and effective.
your child's lunch as you would during the week, but include a food
thermometer. Keep it at room-temperature for the same amount of time as it is
during the week.
the end, the thermometer should read close to your refrigerator temperature,
about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. "Potentially hazardous foods, like meats and dairy
products, should not be in the danger zone of 41 to 135 degrees for more than
two hours," Barr said. "The longer the food is in the danger zone, the higher
the risk for food borne illness."
learn more about National School Lunch Week, October 14 to 18, 2013, go to www.traytalk.org. For more information on healthy habits
and nutrition, contact your local University of Illinois Extension office or
of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based
information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop
skills and solve problems. University of Illinois Extension provides
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Source: Laura Barr, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, firstname.lastname@example.org