By: Mary Gordon
A new school year always means new changes. This year, that includes making some healthier choices both on the menu and for physical activity. But it’s not just teachers making the changes; we are also issuing a challenge to parents.
First, the menu- We have added the option each day to serve fruit slices, such as apples or oranges, with morning snack. This will help eliminate juice as a food group. We are hearing from more parents who are avoiding serving juice at home as well. The high sugar content of juice (even 100% fruit juice) has many medical professionals advocating for limiting the beverage. This school year, the change at Evergreen means the youngest group never gets juice, but are always served milk or water. The older classes will often see fruit slices instead of juice too. I like the change because we are able to present a larger variety to the children instead of them becoming accustomed to just crackers and juice. The more foods they see, the more foods they are willing to try and eat.
Our second change this school year includes going outside more often. Our exciting news- Evergreen is now accredited as a Connect to Nature site through Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside organization. This means, our aim each day is to go outside. Obviously, unsafe weather will keep us indoors, but a light drizzle or cold temperatures will still give a chance for children to get some fresh air. We are also building up our supply of large muscle activities for the children to stay active on days when severe weather does strike.
And now our challenge to you. We made a small, but hopefully significant change, to our party day sheet sign ups. For Breakfast with Santa, we ask parents to bring a snack to share with other parents. Before, this was always listed as a coffee cake. We changed it to just a snack. We may think of giving our children healthy food but sometimes around the holidays neglect our own diet. We ask that you think of items like muffins, bagels or fruit as alternatives to donuts and coffee cakes.
We are heading into our third year as an Ohio Healthy Program at Evergreen Children’s Center. We will continue to push forward with better choices on the plate. We will continue to find new ways to stay active. And we hope to continue our partnership with parents to help children learn how to make healthy choices on their own.