The United States has a problem with childhood hunger. One in five kids doesn’t get enough to eat at school due to food insecurity—that’s just the start. The good news is that there are solutions for addressing this problem.
We can ensure that every kid has access to healthy meals during the school day, from breakfast through lunchtime; we need more creativity in how we do it! Here are some ways schools across America are tackling this issue:
Provide whole grains and vegetables in schools.
Whole grains and vegetables are healthy foods that can be affordable for schools to serve. They’re also excellent choices for kids, who will eat more if they’re available in free school meals.
Brown rice, whole wheat pieces of bread and pasta, oats, barley, and quinoa (a small grain) are good sources of fiber and protein—critical nutrients for healthy growth.
While these grains may not be as popular with young children as other less-healthy options such as white bread or french fries (which may contain trans fat), they provide valuable nutrients while still being low in calorie density per gram of content. So there’s no need to worry about kids stuffing themselves full!
Fresh vegetables are cheaper than processed ones because they don’t require any processing steps other than washing; however, you should check out your local supermarket before stocking up on fresh produce because prices vary widely depending on where you live/work, etcetera.
Ensure kids are hydrated before lunch to avoid headaches, fainting, or worse.
Hydration is an essential part of your child’s health and wellness. The best way to prevent dehydration is by drinking plenty of water. This will help keep your body from getting dehydrated and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children drink two cups (eight ounces) of fluids daily for healthy growth and development in children ages 1-2 years old; 3-4 years old; 5-6 years old; 7-8 years old, and 9+ years old!
Get the right foods to students who need them most.
As a school, you may be able to do a lot of work to help address childhood hunger in your community. But what about communities that have limited access to healthy food options? How do we reach out and make sure these students get the nutritious meals they need?
It’s essential for us all—students and adults alike—to understand that childhood hunger isn’t just an issue for children; it can devastate families. That’s why we’re working with organizations like Feeding America to provide food assistance programs nationwide and design innovative solutions for addressing childhood hunger in schools.
Teach kids about nutrition.
There is much evidence that teaching kids about nutrition and healthy eating can help them make better home and school decisions.
- Teach your child how to read food labels. If you want to help your child understand what they’re putting into their bodies, start by showing them how different types of foods are labeled: “100% whole wheat bread,” “low-fat cheese,” and “low sodium pasta sauce.” This will give them an idea of what to look for when choosing meals at home or school cafeterias.
- Talk about portion sizes with young ones who don’t know any better—and encourage them to do so! You might have heard this adage before: The only way we can keep our waistlines in check is if we eat less than we should be eating (which means measuring our portions).
- Kids who can relate easily with others tend to enjoy coming up with ideas and take ownership of their choices, making it easier for parents like us who sometimes don’t feel equipped enough.
Make the kitchen more inviting.
The kitchen is an integral part of any school’s food service operation. It’s one of the places where students can learn about healthy eating habits and gain confidence in their cooking skills. To help schools create a more inviting environment for kids, here are some guidelines:
Make sure your kitchen has everything you need to prepare meals: equipment like mixing bowls, knives, or spoons; storage containers; measuring cups and spoons; plates; cups; dishes (plates included); utensils (spoons), etc., including those used for serving food on plates such as forks and knives.
If space is available during lunchtime, consider adding additional items such as microwaves, so students do not have to go through long lines at each mealtime. Make sure everything is organized neatly together so that it’s easy for students to work quickly during morning recess or after-school programs.
Keep an eye out for areas where things could get dirty too quickly—like countertops where foods might be prepared before being put into storage containers—and clean them regularly if necessary.
It’s possible to provide school lunches that are good for kids’ health, taste delicious, and are affordable for schools.
Making sure that children get nutritious meals helps them grow up healthy. Many people like the food served in school cafeterias because it’s easy to eat on the go or after school activities have ended (like sports practices).
This allows parents and guardians who work full time outside of the home but still want their kids fed properly during their lunch break or after school hours so they don’t have too much free time during which they could eat something unhealthy instead of getting proper nutrition into them!