Coming soon to a school near you: Salad Bars!

Featuring: Healthy School Lunches Everyday

Coming soon to a school near you: Salad Bars!

If you are anything like some parents I know, you are anxious to have your children back in school – back to routine, schedules, and less “Mom, I’m bored.” This year you have another reason to be excited – you can be confident that children in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools are receiving nutritious lunches. In fact, 52 schools will be receiving salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

Salad bars work on a key principle of healthy eating for children – involving them in the process. Whether at home or at school, children who have a choice in what they eat are more likely to try and actually consume certain foods. Think of this question: “Do you want a vegetable with your lunch?” Many children may answer no, but if presented with the question, “What would you like to eat off of this salad bar?” children will take their empty bowls and fill with fresh lettuces, carrots and tomatoes.

Follow this principle and more modeled after the guidelines of the National School Lunch Program to jump-start your family’s eating pattern this school year:

  1. Start with veggies and fruits. Half of your child’s meal should consist of colorful fruits and veggies. A variety should be offered throughout the week to include: dark green, red-orange, beans/peas (legumes), and starchy veggies. Involve your child in the meal-planning process. Ask “What color fruits and veggies would you like today?”
  2. Choose lean meat and meat alternatives. As our bodies’ building blocks, protein plays in an important role in health. Better yet, it will help to keep you full and satisfied until your next meal. Include turkey, grilled chicken, eggs, beans, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt as protein sources in your kiddo’s next meal.
  3. Add whole grains, since 100 percent whole wheat breads, wraps, crackers, and popcorn pack a fiber punch. More slowly digested than white or processed and refined grains, these provide sustainable energy throughout a long school day.
  4. Don’t forget reduced-fat or fat-free milk. We encourage cafeteria staff to place plain milks in front of vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. Children choose what is easiest. How could you make this work for your home?

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