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.
Jump IN for Healthy Kids has a close partner in Early Learning Indiana, helping our work to reduce overweight and obesity prevalence in children. Research tells us that children establish their habits around nutrition and physical activity by age five, so ensuring they learn healthy behaviors early on is critical. We reach these young children through the Taking Steps to Healthy Success (TSHS) program, a best practices approach to nutrition and physical activity for children ages zero to five that covers the topics of nutrition, healthy beverages, physical activity, screen time, breast feeding, family engagement and staff wellness. Jump IN and Early Learning Indiana offer TSHS free to child care providers and all participating programs will receive a cash incentive upon completing the requirements. Thanks to Anthem, Jump IN and Early Learning Indiana are now enrolling 25 new child care providers to begin the full session and 25 providers who've already had the training for ongoing technical assistance to ensure that the best practices are being thoroughly followed and are embedded into the policies and day-to-day of the centers. More than 170 child care providers in central Indiana have already participated in the program, impacting more than 10,000 children.
This is the last blog post of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. But Harrison Hill is unusual as a community school: services that families need are accessible at the school (part 1), and School Community Liaison Neal Gore has developed an exceptionally robust family engagement program (part 2). The third piece of this work is improving kids' health by creating a healthy environment where making good nutrition and physical activity choices are part of daily life.
A couple of Mondays ago at the Sharing Place food pantry in Lawrence Township it was 11 degrees outside and a line was already forming for the pantry 30 minutes before it was scheduled to open. For the people waiting, this would be their one opportunity to access food from the Sharing Place all month. Until recently, the Sharing Place didn’t give a lot of thought to the nutrition of the food its shoppers were accessing – food is food for someone who is hungry. But Jump IN for Healthy Kids’ Community Demonstration Project in Lawrence and the Far Eastside had changed that, and changed the pantry’s layout, signage, and offerings for the better.
Have the Olympics triggered conversations in your house about sports and having a healthy body? Now is a great time to talk about the connection between physical activity and staying healthy. You don't have to be a world-class athlete to have strong bones and muscles. Here is a simple formula that you can use every day (you may already be doing one or more of these activities) to help your body function in good form.
Our friends at Let's Go! created a simple slogan to help you remember four ways to be healthy every day: 5-2-1-0. These research-proven recommendations come from experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.