As parents, our primary concern is the health and well-being of our children. As children's bodies grow and develop it is crucial they eat heathly, vitamin and mineral-packed meals. Healthy diets help children develop emotionally, reach academic fulfillment, and build a healthy physical constitution that will prevent childhood and adult illness.
There is no time like childhood to instill good eating habits. While plant-based diets are healthy and protect the body from disease, increasing evidence directly links meat and dairy based diets with chronic and infectious disease -- disease like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. That's why it's crucial parents and schools take to heart the advice of leading medical organizations and provide a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Many children prefer to eat unhealthy foods. Influenced by peers, advertising and a fast food culture, these children have little understanding of the origin of their foods, much less the health benefits or disease-causing properties inherent in them. Thus we see an alarming growth in junk food and fast food consumption in our children.
Schools often encourage these unhealthy eating trends because they have made finance a priority over their student's health. As a result schools have forsaken healthier foods for fast foods, they've entered into 'pouring contracts' with soda companies, installed vending machines stocked with junk foods and allowed commercial advertising into their classrooms through Channel One. But schools have a responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of their students.
The time has come for change. Under fire from medical professionals, media, parents and now lawyers, schools know that change is upon them. Instead of facilitating poor eating habits; administrators, teachers, parents and food service will have to partner together to help our children understand the importance of healthy eating and increase their opportunity to try new foods.
When communities work together they find innovative means for establishing new, successful standards in their children's diets. For instance, experimental fresh fruit programs around the country are meeting with resounding approval as children clamour for the daily selection of peaches, apples, grapes, oranges, kiwi or starfruit. And in-school gardens help children become enthusiastic about eating carrots, spinach, brocolli and other vegetables children often shun.
CHOICE is committed to providing lesson plans, menus, information and support tools to parents, teachers and food service. Through a "hands-on" learning approach to nutrition, teachers can help children understand the connection between the foods they eat and their personal well-being. Parents and food service can then ensure these foods are provided at home and at school.
For important health guides and statistics, please read on...