Seanna Thomas: ABC Kitchen


A Cool School Program to Get Your Kids Eating Healthier

Encourage Your Kids's School to Apply for Metro’s Green Apple School Program asap!

A Cool School Program to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthier

As a busy parent, I know you understand the difficulty of always feeding your family healthy, home-cooked meals and encouraging healthy eating at all times. With hockey practice, dance lessons, swimming, homework, school projects and play dates, time constraints are tough on all of us. However, it's important to educate our kids about nutrition as early as possible so they know how to nourish their bodies into adulthood—and beyond. Teaching them starts at home but it also extends to their time at school. But how do we find the time to make it all happen? Great news! I’ve got solutions for you...and the best part? They're easy!

Encouraging healthy eating at school

As a holistic nutritionist, I've had the opportunity to work in schools, so I’ve been able to see some of the lunches kids eat each day. Many of those lunches contain packaged and processed sugary items. There are many downsides to feeding them these types of foods including the fact that after eating processed foods, they'll bounce off the walls until they crash because they have no energy left. This breaks my heart because kids cannot concentrate or learn properly with this type of fuel. Real food creates real focus.

So how can we make school lunches a little healthier and get our kids eating healthier while at school?

  • Include their favourite fruits and/or vegetables in their daily lunches. What you choose to include can be as simple as fresh berries, grapes, or unsweetened applesauce.
  • When sending veggies, cut them into bite size pieces, pair them with a healthy dip and watch them disappear!
  • Involve your kids in school lunch preparation. When they make it, they will be more likely to eat it.
  • Encourage your kid's school to apply for Metro’s Green Apple School Program.

Metro's Green Apple School Program

Encourage your kid's school to apply for a grant from Metro's Green Apple School Program. I LOVE this program because it encourages kids to try new foods and it focuses on the foundation of a healthy diet: fruits and vegetables. Strengthening a love of healthy food at school will not only help our kids make better choices at home, but certainly lower their risk of obesity.

The grant allows schools to provide access to healthy food and provide nutritious alternatives to not-so-healthy choices while showing the importance of fresh local foods. Foods from different cultures are also highlighted (we do live in Canada, after all!) to expand the range of healthy choices. How amazing is that? To-date, the program has supported the establishment and completion of hundreds of gardens, cooking workshops, cookbooks, and food programs all across Ontario.

Metro is investing $500,000 into the program this year alone by awarding $1000 grants to elementary and secondary schools in Ontario. That’s free money for your kids’ healthy education! Any opportunity for our kids to adopt healthier nutrition habits and eliminate unhealthy ones while at school is a win.

Encouraging healthy eating at home

Now that the school part is covered, what else can we be doing at home to get them eating those fruits and veggies? As always, we should be a positive example for our little ones—they mimic our every move, and this includes what we eat.

  • When eating fruits and veggies, do it around the kids so they see. I play a game with my kids called “You can’t have mine!” and then they OBVIOUSLY want what they can’t have. And what is it that they can't have? A wedge of pineapple or celery sticks!
  • Keep a basket of fresh fruit by the front door so you can grab an apple on your way out and keep snack sized bags of veggies in the fridge where the kids can reach. Also try keeping bananas and bottles of water in the car.
  • Give them choices! For after school snacks, put out carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, and other veggies with hummus. It will curb their hunger and at the very least, if they don’t eat their veggies at dinner, you know they have SOME good stuff into their bellies.
  • Have your kids in the kitchen with you. The more involved they are with food—whether it’s helping to make dinner, preparing snacks, or planting seeds—the more invested they will be in the outcome. Yes, it might be messier. Yes, it may take longer, but eating dinner together at home, eating their self-made lunches at school, or picking vegetables they grew themselves are all steps in the right direction.

Ultimately, it's up to us to inspire our children to eat healthy, fresh foods and it’s easier than you may think. Encourage your kid’s school to apply for a grant through Metro's Green Apple School Program to help kids understand the concepts of proper nutrition and health. Surround your family with healthy, local ingredients and present these options to everyone, often. Try to eat one more piece of fruit today in front of your kids. See who can get the most peas onto their fork. Make meals as colourful as possible and let your little ones help! And then, we can all just sit back and watch our healthy kids grow.