This week is National School Breakfast week. Like the National School Lunch Program, the National School Breakfast Program provides free and reduced-price meals for eligible students. Breakfast is an important meal, especially for school children. Kids who start their day with breakfast pay more attention in class, get better grades, go to the school nurse less often, and are less likely to be overweight than children who don’t eat breakfast. Check with your child’s school to see if it takes part in the School Breakfast Program and to get more information on the school’s policies. Breakfast at school is a great way to give your child the breakfast and nutrition they need to do well in school.
Take advantage of programs that your family qualifies for – school meals, WIC, and others. School meals are one of the best ways to keep your children healthy and ready to learn. Did you know that children who eat school breakfasts score better on tests, and have better memories and attention spans? Encourage your child to enjoy meals at school – they offer a variety of healthy foods and help children learn. They can also save you money!
Check with your local school district to see if there is a Summer Food Service Program in your area for your children. You may know this as the Summer Lunch or Summer Feeding Program. This program gives free lunches to any child aged 2-18 during the summer season. Some of these programs have activities and educational programs, too. Resources like these can be fun and stretch your food dollars, too!
In another week we’ll be celebrating the New Year, and some of us will be making resolutions. We have a suggestion. Instead of planning big changes in your eating or other habits, how about something simple? Just eat meals with your family or friends! This is especially true for families with children. Studies show that children and teens in families who eat together three or more times a week are healthier. They eat healthier foods, and are less likely to become overweight, eat unhealthy foods, or have eating disorders. So keep it simple, and plan to enjoy more meals with others.
Most people love to get homemade gifts, and there’s nothing like something from the kitchen! Plus, you can make several great gifts without spending much money or time! If you bake, try quick breads or bars made with cranberries or pumpkin. Or make a special fruit jam, a flavored vinegar, or a popcorn or granola snack mix. Even if you don’t cook, you can layer ingredients in a glass jar and attach instructions. Look for recipes online or in the library, and buy inexpensive containers at dollar or discount stores. Using your time makes the gift more personal, while saving money helps stretch your food dollars.
Take a minute to think about food during this holiday season. Many of us grew up with big holiday meals and parties, or learned that “treats” were ways to show love or to reward good behavior. Remember what the holidays really mean to you, and let go of pressure to over-do feasts and treats. Plan thoughtfully. You may even want to set a holiday budget for food. Go ahead and plan for the traditional foods that have always meant a lot to you, but don’t overdo. And when you shop, resist the “extras” like decorations, holiday baked goods, or flowers that aren’t part of your plan. Plan ahead to save stress and money!