Healthy School Celebrations

Let’s Party! Birthday parties and holiday festivities are common events in elementary schools. Your grandchildren are probably looking forward to the Valentines Day party now being planned at his or her school. One thing is for sure – along with the fun comes the food. Just one school party can include pizza, cake, chips, ice cream (of course!), sugar-loaded drinks plus a take-home bag of candy.

Offering so many sugary and fat-ladened treats can contribute to unhealthy eating habits. However, a few easy changes by parents, grandparents, teachers and school administrators can change the center of attention from unhealthy food to healthy fun.

 

What You Can Do

Every school district has a local wellness policy which is required by federal law. Nutrition education, physical activity and school meals must be addressed within that document. Find out if your school’s policy addresses school celebrations. If not, join the school’s wellness committee in an effort to incorporate healthy celebrations into their policy.

Healthy Party Tips

Take the initiative to set a new standard for this year’s school parties. Here are some new guidelines to consider for a healthful celebration:

♦  Make a healthy snack list and have parents and grandparents record their name to bring an item on the list to the party.

♦  Limit junk-food items brought to each party to one.

♦  Restrict celebrations which provide food to no more than one party per class per month.

Healthy Party Food Ideas

➤  Fruit kabobs made with a variety of fruits

➤  Fresh apple wedges with flavored yogurt as a dip

➤  Graham crackers with jam or peanut butter spreads

➤  Low-fat pudding

➤  Light or low-fat popcorn

➤  Trail mix made with mini pretzels, dried fruit, low-sugar/whole grain cereals and sunflower seeds. Have adults bring the ingredients and let kids have fun in  making their own

➤  Homemade blueberry muffins

➤ Please do not offer children peanuts or foods containing peanuts because of the high incidence of life threatening peanut allergies in some children

➤ Be sure that the children have some active time during the celebration to burn off those extra snack calories

With Valentines Day is coming up, find out if your grandchild’s teacher is planning a special celebration for his or her class. If so, ask if you can bring strawberries, raspberries and red grapes with a flavored yogurt dip just to make sure there is at least one healthy snack for the children to try. That might even give the teacher ideas for future class parties.

Links for more ideas:

 Guide to Healthy School Parties:

http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdenutritran/download/pdf/WPGuidetoHealthySchoolPartiesAFHKAlabama.pdf

Healthy School Parties:

http://www.healthiergeneration.org/schools.aspx?id=3296

Healthy Celebrations:

http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/communities/healthycelebrationsCT.pdf

Janice Wade-Miller is a nutrition educator in Tallahassee, Florida. She has earned her bachelors and masters degrees in Food and Nutrition from Florida State University. In her role as a health educator, she has assisted all age groups, from young children to senior citizens in learning about good nutrition, health and food safety. Her email address is jmiller@iamforkids.org.

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