By SeAnne Safaii, Ph.D., RD, LD, and UI Dietetics Student Regina Lewis
Schools nationwide will be celebrating National School Lunch Week Oc. 15-19. This year’s theme is “School Lunch-What’s Cooking?” The Coeur d’Alene School District Nutrition Services has a week of festivities planned which will include events to promote the benefits of eating a healthy school lunch. This spotlight will put a focus on the healthy foods and positive changes that District 271 schools have included into their menu. A healthy school lunch will help children get the daily nutrients needed to keep their energy level up and stay alert for the busy school day. Each day a menu item will be featured to show students the value of school lunch. The foods featured this week include:
Monday: Tomatoes which contain Vitamin A, C and are fat free
Tuesday: Whole grains which contain vitamin B, antioxidants and fiber
Wednesday: Beans which contain protein, fiver and are fat free'
Thursday: Potatoes which contain vitamin C, protein and fiber
Friday: Fish which contains healthy omega 3 and omega 6 fats as well as protein
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves more than 31 million children every day. It has been serving the nation’s children for more than 60 years. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released new meal guidelines for the NSLP in January 2012. Idaho was minimally affected, however due to the fact that they were already following stricter standards.
The Coeur d’Alene District 271 food service professionals have always worked hard to find nutritious and creative ways to provide healthy meals. Encoraging children to eat healthy is a balance between offering healthier versions of familiar foods while providing a variety of new healthy foods for them to try and become more familiar with. “It’s exciting to see kids enjoying their jicama and to hear stories from parents who’ve had their child ask for specific vegetables they’ve learned to love at school! “The school lunch program strives to encourage children to learn what healthy foods are and how eating then can lead to lifelong good health.
Although we believe that healthy eating begins in the home, the schools play a pivotal role in reinforcing this behavior. Parents should always be the models for their children, because we are responsible for purchasing and cooking the healthy food. The child is responsible for eating it. The more exposures that we give children to healthier foods and with reinforcing these foods in schools, the higher the probability that the child will eventually eat them.
We at the University of Idaho, coordinated dietetics program would like to take this opportunity to thank the Coeur d’Alene School District 271 Nutrition Service staff for the huge amount of effort they do to constantly improve the quality of food they’re serving and the encouragement they give the students to try the wide variety of fruits and vegetables being offered.