October 2013 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 5, Issue 10]

Improving Diets in Low-Income Rural Areas

In the United States, a large number of kids still don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables every day, partly due to poor dietary habits and also  to the lack of produce in some areas. This happens in both urban and rural areas. Is it possible to help these children?

Healthier Diets Possible in Low-Income, Rural Communities
This article from Science News describes a study designed to improve the health habits of children in rural impoverished areas. Researchers utilized a program that made healthier foods more available in schools and created educational materials on diet and exercise and incorporated them into the normal school curriculum

What You Can Do:
  • Habits can be broken by repetition. Discuss the importance of healthy foods with your students frequently.
  • Offer fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grains as snacks and at lunch.
  • Don’t forget about physical activity. Have students keep track of their time after school. How much of their time is active (sports and outdoor activities) and how much is sedentary (TV, video games, reading and studying)?
Athletes Pushing Junk Foods

This is frustrating to me. Kids have their idols, usually rock stars, actors and athletes, and because they idolize them, there’s a good chance they’ll want to buy whatever they’re endorsing. I understand that it’s all about the money, which is very good for successful athletes who sign endorsement deals, but looks like much of the food they push is just junk.

Study: Top Athletes Endorsing Unhealthy Foods

This article from KOMO News describes a study that finds a majority of well-known athletes are endorsing high-calorie and nutrient poor foods. I think this is something that we as teachers and parents need to address with kids.

Tips for teachers:
  • Middle school and high school students are the main targets for these ads. Explain how endorsements work. These athletes want to make money not improve the health of your kid.
  • Teach kids how to evaluate commercials and ads. Do they really need what they see, or do they want it only after they see it?
  • Set the example. Eat healthy foods, especially when students and your kids are watching.
  • Talk about healthier snacks and why diet matters.
Debit Accounts and School Lunches
?Something to Think About?

Many schools use debit accounts for lunches, which makes paying for meals fast and easy. Sounds much better than the old punch card I kept losing as a kid. But there are critics of using debit accounts, claiming they might increase the temptation to buy less nutritious foods.

Less Healthy Food Choices and Higher Calorie Meals a Greater Temptation for Users of School Debit Accounts

Here’s an article from Medical News Today that looks at a study done by Cornell University’s Food and Brand lab. This particular lab focuses much of its work on how and why people choose the foods they eat and how our environment affects our eating habits.

This particular study examined the lunch purchases of more than 2,000 students and found that students at debit-only schools were more likely to purchase candy, dessert and fried foods. Of course, there could always be more to the story, like where these particular schools were located or other issues not mentioned in the article. Interesting read, nonetheless.

Learning From a President

William Howard Taft, our 27th United States president was ahead of his time, but not in a good way. He was obese and his correspondence with a British physician shows how difficult his struggle with his weight was.

President Taft’s Obesity Struggle Was a Harbinger of Things to Come

This article in HealthDay tells the story of President Taft’s ongoing issues with obesity. He tried weight loss diets and saw some success, but over time, he regained the weight he lost and even put on more. By the tine he took office in 1909, he tipped the scales at over 350 pounds.

What Can We Learn From This?
  • Not much has changed in the past century, except more people struggle with their weight.
  • It’s not easy to fix. Diets are difficult to follow, but ultimately dietary habits need to change.
  • There is one change. Today we have bariatric surgery, which can be beneficial for people who are morbidly obese.
Consider Your Concession Stands

Here’s something I’ve thought about when I’ve gone to various high school sporting events over the years. Why not sell healthier foods?

Appleton Schools Revised Nutrition Policy Targets Concession Stands, Fundraisers

Here’s an article about the Appleton Wisconsin School District’s decision to require concession stands to sell at least one healthy food option in each category of food. Is it working? Looks like it – those chicken breasts are selling out.

About HotLunch.com

Hotlunch.com is the only web-based system of its kind. Take a look at these testimonials to see how Hotlunch.com made an impact for these schools.

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  • Reduce errors, increase profits for you school and bring outstanding payments down to zero.

  • Hotlunch.com has been used by schools all over the nation  to manage after school care, volunteer recruitment, capital campaigns and much more!

  • With School opening shortly allow us to show you how you can save time and money on your lunch administration. Click here for information.

  • Ask us how today. Call 1-888-376-7136 or email info@hotlunch.com
Like us on Facebook

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Looking for FREE Math Practice tests?

We are launching a new product and would like you to be part of a focus group. Hotlunch.com is partnering with one of the leaders in online education tutorhigh.com to bring our students of Grades 3 to 5, practice tests to help them reinforce their classroom learning. Some of the unique features-

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Be among the first to try this exciting online learning tool.  Logon at http://www.tutorhigh.com/group/login.php Sign up for a free user account with User Group Name: Hotlunch During the trial period these test are free to use, please send us your feedback to support@hotlunch.com

Savor Some Soup This Fall

Soup from a can is usually disappointing; with its mushy vegetables, tiny bits of meat, squishy noodles and dull flavors that can't be repaired by all the salt that comes along with it. Escape the canned soup rut by making your own.

Start with the broth. Your broth is the background flavor behind the rest of your ingredients. Chicken, beef and vegetable broths are the most common. Use beef broth for beef stew or beef and barley soups; use chicken broth for chicken soup or seafood chowders; and use vegetable broth for vegetable and bean soups.
Homemade broth is the most flavorful, and it's not difficult to make, just add your ingredients to a pot of water and let it simmer for an hour or two. Strain out the solids and it's ready to use as a base for your soup, or you can store in the fridge or freeze for long-term storage.

Canned broths, bouillon and powdered soup bases are available at your grocery store. The flavors range from fairly tasty to rather nasty, but they're convenient. I usually keep a few quarts of vegetable broth on hand.

If you're using a recipe, it will tell you how much broth to use. If you're making it up as you go, then start with 6 to 8 cups of broth in a large pot, let it simmer as you add the ingredients. You can add more broth later if you need it. 

Adding healthy ingredients. The healthiest soups have a lean protein source, lots of colorful vegetables and possibly a source of starch (hey, sounds just like a balanced meal). Lean cuts of chicken, turkey, beef, lamb or pork; or legumes add flavor, protein, vitamins and minerals. Legumes also add lots of fiber.
There's an almost endless list of vegetables that can be included in a healthful soup. Carrots, onions, green beans, kale, celery, broccoli, parsnips, zucchini, or whatever you like. They're all good because they're loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Tomatoes and mushrooms are good for soup too. For starch, you can add potatoes, noodles, or rice.

Preparing the proteins. Cut the meats into bite-size pieces and brown them in a pan before adding them to your soup. This way you can get rid of some of extra fat. Clams or other types of seafood can be fresh or you can use the kind that’s in a can. You don't need much, because you're going to save room for the vegetables. For 8 ounces of broth, a cup or two of chopped cooked meat is enough.

Dry beans and lentils should be cooked ahead of time, or you can buy canned beans that are ready to use. Pour the canned beans into a colander and rinse them excess sodium away before adding them to your soup.

Adding the vegetables. Select your favorite veggies, cut them into bite sized pieces and add them to your soup. You can choose several types or just a couple, depending on your mood. If you're going to use onions, you might want to brown them first, with a little garlic, and then add them to the pot. A cup or two of vegetables should be enough.

Selecting your starches. Potatoes are prepared just like the other vegetables (choose red potatoes, or at least avoid the Russets -- they're too starchy and will fall apart in your soup). If you prefer, you can add barley, rice or pasta, keeping in mind that they'll expand as your soup cooks. If you add too much, you might run out of broth. A cup or so (dry) is probably enough. 

Finishing your soup. At this point your soup might still be a little drab, so spruce it up with your favorite seasonings. Thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, and bay leaf will work with most soups. Finally, let your soup simmer until all the ingredients are cooked to your liking, and serve with a nice little salad or some fresh bread.
More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

Set Your Child up for Success with Healthy Eating

Nutrition Know-How:  Keep your body going strong with Vitamin D

Obesity Risk among Adolescents Reduced with 5 Regular Meals a Day

Creative Way to Get Kids to Eat Veggies

About Shereen Jegtvig
Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website About.com (http://nutrition.about.com), is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470445394.html) and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118116437.html). She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.