TPS does its part to make kids eat healthyWritten by Katherine Timpf | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Students at Toledo Public Schools (TPS) looking to indulge their sweet tooth will have to take their change elsewhere.
“In the vending machines we now have more healthy options … There aren’t chips, there aren’t candy bars, [it’s] more nutritious,” said James Gault, assistant superintendent of secondary education for Toledo Public Schools. “You’ll find crackers, fruit bars, things like that.”
TPS Chief of Staff Crystal Ellis said that while there are no popcorn or candy machines, the school still serves things like pizza, which “isn’t necessarily considered unhealthy.”
Gault said adding pizza, salads and bagels to the menu has led to more students eating lunch, whereas before, “50 percent or less” would eat lunch.
“Some students choose not to eat,” Gault said. “We have to balance it with what the kids will eat. Imagine a world if all we could put out was cucumber slices [and] healthy fruits, and kids would eat them. But that’s not the clientele we serve. You almost have to trick them into eating healthy.”
Vanessa Cavallaro, a registered dietitian from Action for Healthy Kids, said healthy foods have numerous benefits for children — both physically and mentally.
“Kids who eat more nutritious, they have less absences in school; they’re sick less often and they tend to do better academically,” Cavallaro said.A foolproof way to assure your child eats a healthy lunch is by packing it at home. Follow these tips from Vanessa Cavallaro, registered dietician:
Tips to make your child a healthy lunch
■ Stick to whole-grain breads and crackers whenever possible.
■ Choose lean protein, such as turkey or lean roast beef.
■ Encourage kids to get low-fat or non-fat milk from the school cafeteria.
■ Pack water, low-or-non-fat milk or 100 percent juice to drink. Even chocolate milk is OK, as long as it is low-fat or non-fat.
■ Include a yogurt. “Many companies are using less added sugar in those products,” Cavallaro said.
■ Include fruits and vegetables in bite-sized pieces. As for packaged fruit cups, choose only those in light syrup or natural juices.
■ Watch portion sizes in typical snack foods. “Have the kids portion out the servings, so they are making the connection to what a serving size is,” Cavallaro said.
■ Don’t give up on healthy foods, even if children don’t like them right away.“I think it’s interesting for parents to note it can take up to 12 times to acquire a taste for something,” Cavallaro said. “Keep trying, especially if it’s a new vegetable or a whole grain … it may take a little time for kids to develop tastes.”
■ Avoid Lunchables and “highly processed” lunch meats. “Pepperoni [adds] a lot of sodium and saturated fats,” Cavallaro said.