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.
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.
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.
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.
This time of year, it's tempting to eat at restaurants more often. Sometimes it's too hot to cook and others it just sounds fun to visit a new restaurant and sit outside. It's also the time of year many of us take vacations, and that usually means eating out much more than we would at home. But eating out doesn't have to mean sacrificing good food choices. Scroll down for some tips to follow to help keep your portions right-sized and your selection nutritious.
At Jump In, one thing we hear a lot is that healthy food costs more than unhealthy food and that makes it harder to stick to a nutritious diet every day. While it's true that some processed food is, per calorie, cheaper than fresh food, there are lots of ways to maintain a very healthy diet while watching your budget. Pantry staples like beans and whole grains (rice, quinoa) are low-cost and important to a healthy diet. Eggs are an inexpensive source of good protein. And fresh, seasonal produce is especially plentiful at affordable prices this time of year when there are farm stands and farmers markets around town. Many farmers markets accept SNAP and some will even double the SNAP benefit for the products sold there. Here is a list of greater Indianapolis farmers markets this time of year, and here's another of farmers markets that run in the fall and winter.
How about that seasonal produce? You've probably noticed that certain fruits and vegetables go on sale at different times of the year. That's because of when the produce is harvested. Eating fruits and vegetables in season can help save money and give you a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from all year long. In the fall, look for apples, squash (including pumpkin!), broccoli, brussels sprouts and everything on this list. In the winter, stick with citrus fruits, dates, sweet potatoes and everything on this list. In the spring, stock up on honeydew, rhubarb, pineapple, strawberries and all of these. Right now, in the middle of glorious summer, you can indulge in corn, tomatoes, berries, cherries, eggplant, and this whole long, luscious list. Summer definitely has a growing advantage over the other seasons, but as you can read, each season offers a wide variety to suit all kinds of tastes - and plenty of new fruits and vegetables to try.
Many more tips on ways to save money while making healthy choices come straight from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Planning meals and grocery lists ahead of time, reading labels - all these can help inform you to be better educated and a savvier shopper and eater. Here's the complete list, and it includes some terrific recipes:
With a little information and a little planning, you can make healthy choices for yourself and your family all year long while sticking to your budget. Bon appetit!
You've been reading about Jump IN for Healthy Kids' participation in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge and we're happy to feature another organization doing great work in greater Lawrence and the far east side, Mt. Carmel Church. Our work in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge is to address childhood overweight and obesity in a four-zip code area using a comprehensive, multi-sector approach. We work with child care providers; schools; and workplaces; and we address food access so that families have healthy, affordable food; and the built environment to ensure that children and families have access to enough opportunities for physical activity. Mt. Carmel resides in that area, and we are happy to support their work as part of our Challenge. Mt. Carmel also has a multi-sector approach to supporting its community, addressing food access, children's after-school activities, community financial needs, and high school education.
A couple of Fridays ago, roughly 80 volunteers descended on an eight-acre patch of land on the southeast side of Lawrence. The land is owned by Monarch Beverage, which already has an impressive campus just to the north. These eight acres Monarch has pledged not to develop; they are the grounds of the Lawrence Community Gardens, founded and led by Sharonna Moore.