More than 3.3 million children across the U.S. will eat healthier meals and snacks, thanks to recent revisions to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These new dietary rules and suggested best practices may serve as a useful guide for you, even if your program or child care facility does not participate in the subsidized program.
As designated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), September is National Childhood Obesity Month. Nationally, roughly one in five children suffers from obesity. In central Indiana, those numbers are worse. Jump IN for Healthy Kids is focused on changing those numbers and helping children and families lead healthier lives.
If you work full-time, that's where you spend the majority of your day. It is important to make sure that your work environment is as healthy as it can be, so that you can get in the habit of practicing healthy behaviors.
Across central Indiana, child care providers of all shapes and sizes are making changes to improve the health of the children they serve. Some have dramatically changed their menus, adding whole grains, eliminating processed foods, and increasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Some have stopped using candy and sweets as rewards for desired behavior. Many have eliminated sugary beverages like lemonade and fruit juice. A few have started gardens and engage children in caring for the plants, picking and prepping the produce, and eating the fruits and vegetables.
At Jump IN, one of our focus areas is early childhood education. Very young children who learn healthy habits around nutrition and physical activity are more likely to be at a healthy weight as they get older. Conversely, preschoolers who are overweight or obese are five times more likely to become overweight or obese as adults. Equally troubling, the prevalence of obesity among U.S. preschoolers has doubled in recent decades and keeps getting worse.
Child care providers tell us that they would prefer to serve healthy food in their centers and homes, but the expense is a constant barrier. We are always working to find lower-cost ways to access healthy food, and we have a resource we are happy to share, the Healthier Generation Store with Amazon Business. It's an online marketplace for purchasing food that meets CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) guidelines. The Store currently stocking non-perishables and plans to expand to produce, meat and dairy, to eventually be a full-service store for child care providers. Because it's available across the country, it offers lower prices and free delivery anywhere with a minimum $25 purchase. And because it's connected to Amazon, providers can add on to their order other items they may need, also for delivery - everything that Amazon offers.
Yesterday morning at around 8:30, volunteers began streaming into the parking lot of the Carriage House East Apartments on Indianapolis' Far Eastside to begin building a new playground for the residential area. These volunteers represented the Finish Line Youth Foundation, the Glick Fund, and residents of the Carriage House East community.
The things that children learn when they're young provide stepping stones for the rest of their lives. This is why it is so important for children to learn and practice healthy behaviors in positive environments from the start. Childcare facilities are the perfect places to provide healthy foundations for children, and we have 3 easy practices to help you get started on making health and wellness a priority in your childcare facility.
New Year's Resolutions
This week, many schools around Indianapolis are reopening their doors to students after a summer away. A new school year provides opportunities for school leadership to implement new plans and goals for improvement, and this year the school district of Warren Township is implementing some new year's resolutions of their own. Superintendent Dr. Timothy Hanson and Assistant Superintendent Ryan Russel are hoping to focus on the district's view of health and wellness. Warren Township has a new District Wellness Policy that has a larger focus on physical activity in schools as well as stronger nutrition standards. This new wellness policy is much more comprehensive than the district's original and provides an encouraging stepping stone as the district moves forward to make health and wellness a priority in all of its schools.
As summer starts to wind down and the school year begins to get closer, the realities of school lunches creep closer as well. School lunches are a hot topic, and it's not hard to see why. For many students, school lunch represents a big portion of the food they consume daily. In recent years, many new health initiatives have been put in place to create healthier and tastier options for students eating at school, but many school lunches are still far from perfect.
What is a school wellness policy?
In 2004, Congress passed a law stating that each local educational agency (including school districts) that participates in the National School Lunch Program, or any other federal child nutrition program, is required by federal law to establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under its jurisdiction.