What healthy eating and exercise opportunities does you child's school have?
With childhood obesity on the rise, schools are getting more pressure than ever to to incorporate healthy activities into the school day. What does your child's school do that promotes a healthy lifestyle?
Along with free fruit for snack recess, and a salad bar for lunch recess, they also have a walking club for during lunch. They give the kids a necklace and for every mile, they get a foot charm to go on the necklace. When they get a certain amount, they get a special gift like a book, a ruler, notebook, "smelly" pencils, etc.
I am actually very impressed with my children's school. They received a grant that they have used to extend the school day by 90 minutes. In the morning they serve free breakfast. It is either low sugar cereal or whole grain hot foods like oatmeal, whole grain pancakes or whole grain bagel. They serve free snack which is generally fruit like banana, apple slices, etc. Then for lunch, the only meal we pay for, they offer salad, or deli sandwiches on whole wheat buns, or a choice of hot lunch like while grain pasta, or chicken with a side of vegetables. They offer low fat milk or juice or water to drink. The extra 90 minutes is divided into 3 segments that they rotate. One segment is breakfast, the other is morning exercise where they do activities to get the "blood flowing" like jumping jacks & stretches, etc., & the last segment is one of several activities each day like math/science, technology, computers, etc., where they do fun activities related to this fields that promote thinking, hands on learning & group discussion. I thought the kids would have difficulty adjusting to going to school at 7:30 instead of 9, but they enjoy it. They also get pride points for doing good deeds through out the day & they can turn into 20 pride points for prizes. They come home excited to tell me all the great things they did that day that earned them 7 pride points. I actually was worried about the longer school day, but it is working out well. The morning exercise is in addition to recess each day & PE attended 2x/wk. So they're getting plenty of exercise.
After Kindergarten classes only have recess before lunch and PE twice a week. When I was a kid lunch 'recess' was not counted as recess, we had 2 others during the day! And they wonder about ADHD and overweight kids!!
As far as lunch, they are doing better, but they make the kids take a fruit or veggy even if they don't want or like it, but they also allow them to buy a Poptart meal instead of the regular meal and to buy chips and other unhealthy snacks. Since we are not there we have no say in not letting our children buy this junk! All money is put into an account, so s/he has money for chips too. They also took away flavored milk. Its the only way I could get my son to drink his milk. Now he gets apple juice instead which is just sugary flavored water isn't it? Water costs extra and you need to send in a note to allow your child to buy water. Most of the time my kids don't buy, they are picky anyway. Pizza is always a hit.
Our Elementary School just got national recognition for all the healthy living things we include. We have an amazing kitchen manager that cooks from scratch every day as well as serving vegetables from the schools garden whenever possible. She also makes a health cupcake parents can order for celebrations at school, instead of bringing in chips or cake. http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/289608/346/DPS-healthy-meals-get-national-attention
We have the most wonderful seed to compost programs run by a wonderful mother runs, including the garden and a weekly farmers market. She works with every class to start the seeds in the spring and many children help in the garden in the summer and fall to get the food to the lunchroom.
Our gym teacher is also outstanding and has our kids moving in some amazing ways, including DDR challenges. When Arne Duncan was at the school last week to see all the wonderful things we do to have a healthy community, he arranged a flash mob with staff, students and families.
I've been very pleased with the nutritional lunch offerings at my daughter's public elementary school. Her favorite thing to get for lunch at school is the salad bar -- it is available every day. It always has lettuce/greens, carrots and tomatoes, plus a rotating selection of other fresh veggies and fruits. This week is cucumber slices, celery sticks, strawberries and nectarines. She does usually select the chocolate milk, but at least it is made with skim milk.
Unfortunately, they don't get a lot of exercise opportunities. They make a show of encouraging activity -- the hallways are lined with signs for activity stations like a parcours trail, but as far as I know they only get used once a year on fitness day. The kids get just 20 minutes of recess a day weather permitting plus 20 minutes of gym class once a week. When the weather is bad (raining or snowy or too cold) they don't get any exercise at all -- just 20 minutes of indoor rest time, often watching movies.