September 2012 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 4, Issue 9]

Back To School: Still Not Eating Vegetables

Just about every nutritionist or dietitian you’ll ever meet will tell you that most people need to eat more vegetables. And it’s common knowledge that a lot of kids don’t like vegetables. What happens when we try to get kids to eat more veggies in schools? Apparently not enough.

School programs don't get kids to eat many more veggies, study says

Here’s a story from the Los Angeles Times that discusses a study on school programs for increasing fruit and vegetable intake in kids. These programs are helping to some extent, but according to the authors of a study, not enough.

What you can do for your students:
  • Teach them about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.
  • Arrange field trips to local farms or farmers markets.
  • Assign recipe-building projects that feature healthful fruits
    and vegetables for cooking classes.
However, the Food Environment Has Been Improving

School nutrition is getting better. Since 2006, both public and private schools have taken small steps toward healthier food services.

'Food environment' in schools getting a bit better

This article from the Chicago Tribune describes a study that looks at food environments of both private and public schools and how they changed over five years from 2001 to 2006. The researchers found some good things, like more non- or low-fat milk, but they also found more changes needed to be made.
Brain Foods

Is fish a brain food? For that matter, can any of the foods you eat every day improve your brain function? It’s possible – your brain requires several nutrients to work normally. Might be time to plan some meals around brain foods, now that school is back in session.

Brain foods for back-to-school — and for the rest of life

The Washington Post offers this article about brain foods. According to a neurologist quoted in the article, certain foods can improve brain function quickly, in fact, he says, within a few minutes. Of course, that also means foods that aren’t so good for you can have a quick negative impact.

Brain foods are important at all stages of life. We need them during childhood to help us learn, and later on in life, it’s possible that eating a diet rich in brain foods might help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Talk to your kids about brain foods:
  • Teach kids about how eating sugary foods, or skipping meals, can negatively affect mood,
    memory and performance in school.
  • Discuss how brain foods, like fish, blueberries and spinach can keep little brains happy.
  • Send assignments home with the kids – get their parents involved so they can learn about
    brain foods too.
Young People's Impact On Foods

The Millennials are the people who were born between 1982 and 2001 and now that they’re growing up, they’re responsible for some interesting changes in the food market.  At least according to one article.

How ‘millennials’ are changing food as we know it”

This article from Forbes describes the food buying habits of Millennials. According to the author, this is a group of people who want to watch their budget, but are still willing to pay for organic, ethnic, or specialty foods. They’re also not afraid to make purchases online or go to various markets to find what they want. As the Millennials continue to age, we may see fewer supermarkets and more specialty shops.
Childhood Hunger

It’s sad to think of kids who have to go hungry. In the United States, about 10 percent of our households can’t afford to feed our kids. That means more than 16.6 million kids go hungry. Is there anything we can do to help?

Ten percent of U.S. households couldn’t adequately feed kids in 2011

This article from the Washington Post talks about poverty and the impact it has on childhood hunger. There are government programs, and organizations, such as Share Our Strength, that can help.  The good news is that the number of kids affected by childhood hunger isn’t growing – it seems to have leveled off. But still, there are a lot of kids who need more healthful food.
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Like us on Facebook has expanded our online  presence to Facebook. The new Facebook Page will provide you a wealth of information and updates on School and Children’s nutrition.

Food Additives That May Be Good For You

We tend to think of food additives as artificial ingredients that add weird colors to food or make it so the food can sit on the shelf for months without getting stale. We worry about the effect of those food ingredients so much, that it’s easy to overlook food additives that might actually be good for you. Here’s a few:

Antioxidants are the chemicals found in colorful fruits and vegetables that have special properties to prevent or even treat certain diseases. One example is lycopene, normally found in tomatoes, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Essential Fatty Acids:
Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids are needed for normal nervous system function and they're good for your heart. Babies need omega-3 fatty acids for brain and eye development so infant formula is fortified with DHA, one form of omega-3 fats.

Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. Fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system and some types of fiber will help reduce cholesterol, which may help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, like oat bran fiber. It's often added to breads, pasta, and snack foods to increase the fiber content.

Prebiotics and Probiotics:
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that grow in our gut and help keep our digestive system healthy. Prebiotics are the fibers that help support the growth of the probiotics in our gut. Probiotics are naturally found in yogurt and fermented products. Adding the prebiotics like fructooligosaccarhides to foods will help these healthy bacteria flourish and improve our health. Prebiotics can be added to most any type of food, but is commonly found added to yogurt products and in supplement form.

Vitamins and Minerals:
Many breakfast cereals are fortified with an array of vitamins and minerals and most bread and baked goods are made with refined flour that has had a few B vitamins and iron added. The milk you drink usually contains additional vitamin D and many people choose calcium fortified foods if they don't eat dairy products.

More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

At-Home Moms Cook, Shop, Play More With Kids: Study
But working mothers can still take steps to make sure kids eat right, keep active, expert advises

Food-Assistance Program Sees $2 Billion Spent on Sweet Drinks: Study
Yet initiative's goal is promoting good nutrition

Pressuring Children To Eat Increases Risk Of Obesity

Where's the Beef? Putting a 'Less-Meat' Diet to the Test

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 (, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies ( and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies ( She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students and fundamentals of nutrition to undergrads at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.