The Importance of Nutrition in Schools and at Home

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Honey Cream & Berries OatmealHealthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is very important to me, as I believe we set such a precedence for our children. For the most part our children will eat what we buy and what we eat. It is our responsibility to fill their precious bodies with whole foods and nutritious meals.

Last week I was invited to a presentation with The Motherhood from the Walmart Foundation and Michelle Dudash, RD to learn more about the importance of school breakfast and nutrition education. I really appreciated Michelle's presentation because she really focused on how to shop, cook, and eat healthy with your family.

Among her many tips, my favorites were:

Spring Clean Your Kitchen

*Get rid of unclean ingredients: They get in the way and you can find things easier when you’ve taken out expired foods, etc. Get rid of the leftover candy, unhealthy foods.

*Save clear jars for your pantry: Wash out and reuse these! Great for storing dried fruit, seeds, cereal, snack mixes and VEGETABLES!

*Showcase your produce: Don’t forget about them in the produce drawer! Store them in clear jars on a shelf in your refrigerator, instead! When they are there and easy to see, you’re going to eat them!

*Keep healthy foods within arm’s reach: Keep a fresh bowl of fruit on the counter at home or on your desk at work! Keep them accessible and it will make it easier when you’re on your way out and need a quick snack!

Take Monthly and Weekly Grocery Trips

*Be prepared: Stock up on pantry essentials. Keep a running list of items with set days you go to the grocery store.

*Buy in-season produce (weekly trips): If it’s not in-season, check out the frozen or canned options! Plus, you’ll save money if you buy in-season.

*Cook Once, Eat Twice: Cook a big batch of chicken and you can use leftovers for so many things! Lunches, tacos, soup, etc.! Saves you time, dishes and money!

Get Kids Cooking in the Kitchen

*Kids are more likely to eat what they have helped prepare: When they see it made, they are more interested! And when they help, they’re definitely going to try what they made with you.

*Get Kids in the Kitchen early and helping with age appropriate tasks: Measuring out ingredients, cracking eggs, etc.! Make it fun!

Quick Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

*Boil eggs once a week: Eggs are a GREAT protein source.

*Use leftover veggies from dinner: Great in scrambled eggs, frittatas, breakfast burritos, etc.

*Breakfast sundaes are quick, easy to prepare and travel well: Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, granola and/or almonds! Yum! Layer the yogurt and frozen fruit the night before if you don’t have much time in the morning!

*A homemade breakfast snack mix: Mix some different healthy nuts, dried fruits and granola! Pre-portion it and you can grab and go!

*Pack your kids’ lunches the night before in containers with compartments: Add in a nut butter quesadilla on a whole grain tortilla, fresh cut fruit and some trail mix and you’re done! Give them choices with a fun presentation!

*On Sunday, plan how many dinners you will eat at home that week: Stock your kitchen properly and it will be so much easier on your family. Make a meal plan and grocery shop around that! And ask your family for some input!

Did you know???

Walmart Foundation Helps 250,000 Americans Access School Breakfast & Nutrition Education Programs Through Recent Grants!

This March, the Walmart Foundation donated $6.7 million in grants to 5 national nonprofits that are providing children with school breakfast and helping families develop better eating habits. The grants are part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America and Walmart’s 2011 initiative to provide customers with healthier and more affordable food choices.

With support from the Walmart Foundation, the following nonprofit programs are expected to reach Americans across the country over the next two years:

Action for Healthy Kids: Provide 30,000 children at 100 schools nationwide with breakfast and nutrition education programs.

American Association of School Administrators: Implement a universal breakfast program in six urban school districts to help feed 132,000 children over the next two years.

Common Threads: Increase nutritional literacy and cooking skills among 20,000 low-income children and their families with a year-round program that will be expanded to 20 schools in both Chicago and Miami.

Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center: Expand nutrition education for current participants, graduates and facilitators in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area, and Philadelphia of Prime Time Sister Circles®, a culturally-competent intervention program designed for African American women ages 40-75.

National 4-H Council: Educate 74,000 at-risk children and their families about nutritional choices and food security challenges by expanding nutrition education programming in 22 states.

I think this a HUGE undertaking but an important one as we seek to not only change our eating at home and in schools, but educate others. Kudos to Walmart for getting behind such an overlooked epidemic!

Learn more about Walmart’s commitment to school feeding and nutrition education at WalmartFoundation.org.

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Disclosure: This post was based on a program from The Motherhood and Walmart Foundation. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Ruth Schwenk

Ruth Schwenk is the creator of The Better Mom, and along with her husband, the creator of For the Family. She is a pastor’s wife, mom of four energetic kids, a lover of coffee, and dreamer of big dreams. She loves leading, speaking, and blogging. Ruth is the co-author of Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off and two forthcoming books with Zondervan. A graduate of The Moody Bible Institute, Ruth and her husband have been in full-time local church ministry for over fifteen years.