Eating Smart Back to School

August 14th, 2013 by Live Well Omaha Kids

TammyYarmonMany metro area students are heading back to school this week. We checked in with Tammy Yarmon, Director of Nutrition Services at Omaha Public Schools, to learn what may be new this year for breakfast and lunch, and what parents can do to encourage healthy eating habits at home and at school.

1. What can kids expect this year with lunch at Omaha Public Schools? Our menus are regularly reviewed to provide our students with the foods they like to eat and yet meet the federal requirements. Schools meals continue to provide the nutrients recommended by the American Dietary Guidelines. Our recipes are lower in sodium and contain whole wheat. We have an array of fresh fruits and vegetables and have numerous local choices available this fall, from corn on the cob (Daniel’s Produce), watermelons (Heldt Produce), cucumbers, squash, apples and more. We’ll also have chicken drums from Smart Chicken (Tecumseh, Neb.) and cheese nuggets (Jisa’s Cheese from Brainard, Neb.) on our menus.

2. How can parents help kids make healthier choices during lunch? We publish our menus online and send the elementary menus home every two weeks. Parents and guardians can review the menus with their students and help them make choices before they arrive to school.

3. How important is it that a child eats a good breakfast? Parents should talk with their student about how important breakfast is in being ready for the school day. Studies have shown that students who eat breakfast, have fewer visits to the nurse’s office, are less tardy and are ready for the day. We are continuing to expand the Grab and Go breakfast program in our elementary schools.

4. At home, how can parents support the healthy efforts learned at school? Continually talk with children about choices. For example, when going to restaurants, look at the menus and talk about portion sizes and how they relate to what should be consumed. School meals are the correct portion size for our students (by age group) because people may lose track of the amount that should be eaten at each meal. Another important point is that parents and guardians can model healthy eating behaviors. Try new vegetables at home, purchase products with whole grain and talk about how it is ok to have certain foods once in awhile, just not everyday.

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