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Fake Vending Machine Dispenses Good Health and Hope

Many advocates fighting to end childhood obesity are also fighting to get vending machines out of our kids’ schools. The machines are filled with unhealthy, low-nutrient foods and soda. Many people want to see them kicked out of the schools for good. However, Utah schools may have the one vending machine advocates may start fighting to get in their own schools.

Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah has welcomed a new addition to its halls. Thanks to the LiVe public service program, Intermountain Healthcare has installed a fake, talking vending machine. The vending machine looks like any other, full of sweet and salty treats. The difference is that the snacks are fake and the machine doesn’t take money. When the children select an item the machine dispenses a morsel of healthy information.

“I’m a vending machine and can’t move without someone’s help,” a cartoon-like voice says when a student chooses a Lava Cake. “Keep buying food like this and we’ll have that in common.”

The young elementary students are having fun with the machine, even if they are fooled at first. Some of the children have tried to dislodged the faux treats before they realize the game. Older students have taken younger children to the machine to show them how it works and to hear what it might say.

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Congress Claims Pizza is an Acceptable Vegetable for Our Kids

When I helped the first graders at my son’s school with their food group assignment recently, I was amazed at how many were confused about where to place types of food. So many didn’t know what a green bean was, or what strawberries were. Most were completely unaware that fish was a “meat.” It was disheartening and a good glimpse at the nutrition blunders our kids deal with. After hearing this morning’s news, things are going to get much more difficult. According to Congress, pizza will now be placed in the vegetable category.

Surely, I’m not alone in the jaw-drop response to this news. I re-read it just to make sure I was getting this right. But in clear print, the fact that school lunch pizzas contain tomato paste allows Congress to mark it as a vegetable, therefore keeping it on the menu multiple times a month in schools all over the country.

A congressional committee is responsible for this and other ridiculous staples being allowed to stay on our kids’ menus. As a fightback against the Obama administration’s proposal to make school lunches better and healthier for our kids, a bill was released late Monday entailing all the guidelines.
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INFOGRAPHIC: Childhood Obesity Epidemic by the Numbers

Childhood Obesity Epidemic Infographic
Brought to you by MAT@USC Masters in Teaching

The week of October 10 is National School Lunch Week, an effort to examine and raise awareness around a particular angle of school nutrition. For 2011, the theme is “School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy.” According to the NSLW, this “provides the opportunity to try something new and promote locally sourced foods.

Many school are growing their own gardens, sourcing ingredients for cafeteria meals from local farmers, and some are expanding the knowledge students have of the food industry by inviting farmers to the school or taking field trips to local farms.
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National Grant Promotes Local Farms, Healthy Eating

October is National Farm to School Month, which was enacted by Congress last year. The concept centers around creating and promoting strong relationships between local farms and schools.

A national grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meant to provide support for not just schools, but businesses and other institutions in promoting the use of locally-grown produce in their cafeterias. The latest school to take advantage of this healthy initiative is the University of Missouri. The state of Missouri has 78 school districts that use locally grown produce.
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Build Your Own Healthy Snack Station for Nutrition on the Go

After a busy day of learning and recess, children often come home hungry from school and ready for a snack.

Snacks are a great opportunity to provide your child with healthy options that can replenish their energy and hold them over until dinner. Of course, having a wide variety of nutritious snacks to choose from can seem like quite the endeavor to undertake; especially after a long day of work or running errands. Luckily, with a little forethought, having a wide array of healthy foods ready to go after school is quite easy to accomplish.

One of the simplest ways to go about this is by creating your own after school snack station. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just filled with some of your family’s favorite healthy snack choices. As the reserves run low, simply restock as needed.


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