Darn near every moment is a “teaching moment” for me and my kids. In fact, my boys will tell you that I’m pretty much teaching them something all day long, except they call it “yelling.” Seriously though, the first time Junior says, “#$@!” and everyone giggles and looks at Dad, we all realize that behavioral modeling is a huge factor in shaping our children’s lives. My sons watch me, and they listen closer when I’m not even talking to them. The see how I work, how I play, how I dress, how I interact with my friends and my wife, how I maintain our household, what my priorities are, and yes—even how I eat.
In a recently published interview on Nourish, Cook for America co-founder, Kate Adamick, suggests we view school cafeteria staff as Lunch Teachers, reminding everyone that “what students are fed at school teaches them how to think about food, what to think of as food, and how to behave while consuming it—all lessons that they will carry with them for the remainder of their lives.”
While not exactly a revelation, Adamick’s statement is still, for many, a necessary prompt. Each meal is an opportunity to show our children how to live. Proper nutrition is a fundamental skill that is essential for enduring health and well-being. The kitchen and the school-cafeteria are classrooms where kids learn (or don’t learn) how to select, prepare and eat the right kinds of food. And yet, as Adamick notes, “frequently, school administrators appear to have forgotten that students don’t stop learning just because it’s lunchtime.”
While a good school-lunch program is imperative and can make a difference for many poorly nourished kids, I believe that I’m in the best position to teach my children the importance of proper eating. Parents are overwhelmed much of the time and can make a habit of depending on schools to cover the gaps and keep their kids well-directed. For the most part, given their limited resources, public educators do a wonderful job, but considering the litany of concerns regarding most school-lunch programs (in the U.S.) this is one subject where Father/Mother probably knows best.
Eating, cooking and even shopping together provides wonderful opportunities for shoulder-to-shoulder activities that can positively shape a child’s development. Health, creativity, earth-consciousness and self-assuredness are just a few of the traits that can be nurtured by sharing good eats.
Preparing home-packed lunches for my boys ensures that they’ll be taking a piece of me along with them to school. It enables me to influence them at a critical (under-supervised) point in their day without even being there. It’s this type of unobtrusive, indirect instruction (modeling really) that makes the biggest impact on my kids, and there’s no “yelling.”
If you’re looking to home-school the “lunch” portion of your kids’ curriculum, Lunchsense provides the perfect platform—pack a lesson plan in every box:
Distressing news today:
Kentucky Fried Chicken is running a promotion that, when you buy a half gallon of soda, will donate a buck to Juvenile Diabetes research.
Anyone for a big side order of irony with that?
Granted, sugary drinks are not contributors to type I diabetes (the focus of this research) but the plea to drink a hurking half gallon of soda in front of a diabetic kid who can’t have any, then toss a buck in their direction, is just too awkward to contemplate. Without a doubt the sugar overload DOES contribute to type II diabetes, which although preventable is reaching epidemic levels, with the CDC predicting one third of the US population having diabetes by 2050.
Perhaps that buck can be considered prepaid health insurance.
Hence the smoothie today. Every lunchbox has an 8 oz. drink bottle, and while water works just fine, a liquid treat really hits the spot sometimes and this has ample nutritional benefit to be a snack-unto-itself. It obviously isn’t sugar-free but it is vastly lower in sugar (in relative and absolute terms) than 64 ounces of carbonated sugar water.
Really, 8 ounces is enough.
SMOOTHIE FOR ONE
1/4 C plain yogurt (nonfat, lowfat, regular – it’s personal preference)
1/3 C fresh or frozen mixed berries (OR 1/4 fresh or frozen peach with skin + 6-12 berries)
1/4 C orange juice (OR pineapple, or whatever strikes your fancy)
If you’re drinking this goodness right away, add
a handful of ice cubes
If you’re packing this for a lunchtime treat, add
1/4 C milk
Toss it all in a blender and hit go. Enjoy now, or save it for later – if you happen to pack the smoothie in a drink bottle, be sure to use an ice pack in your lunchbox, and give the bottle a good shake before you drink up!
Every once in a while, we here at Lunchsense like to do, yeah, you guessed it—lunch. Many adults hurry through, or dismiss it altogether; but, for our children, this noontime meal remains a treasured respite from the rigors of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
Most will tell you they really look forward to it. Visit your school’s cafeteria sometime—you’ll likely be greeted by a swirling jangle of sliding, metal chair-legs, eager, chirping voices and a heart-quickening buzz of unleashed energy. You’ll also find a ton of wasted food. This is often the result of over-packing, but it’s just as frequently caused by fickle tastes or “bor-ing” options.
Many kids love lunch-time, but the food—not so much. “Come on, Dad—ham and cheese again?”
In an effort to make sure my kids are properly refueled for their afternoon lessons, I try to mix-up the menu a little bit, and I enlist their help in deciding what’s sure to get eaten. Here are a few of their (somewhat) surprising favorites:
It’s easy to take a less involved approach to your kids’ lunches. The creative energy isn’t always there, and neither is the time. But, letting younglings fend entirely for themselves in the lunch-room can be nutritionally dangerous, and it misses a great opportunity to model healthier living. They really need the midday nourishment, so put your heads together—find out what they like, teach them what’s good for them, and make sure their lunches are about more than just socializing. The quicker you can get your kids eating right, the sooner they’ll start developing healthy habits that will last their whole (long) lives. And, that’s just using your Lunchsense.