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Healthy School Lunch

August 16, 2012, 6:20 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Healthy School Lunch

Along with buying school supplies and getting your children on the right sleep schedule, another way you should prepare your children for school is making sure they have healthy school lunches.

New federal guidelines are requiring schools to serve up more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and skim milk.

Ten-year-old Cheyanne Masterson and her friend know their way around a grocery store. She also doesn't have a problem picking her favorite foods for a school lunch.

"Yogurt, cheese, meat sticks and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," Cheyanne said.

And they're fairly healthy choices too, which can help with more than just the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.

"It's very important that they have healthy lunches as far as their ability to concentrate, just even to get through their day," Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Kristin Sousek said.

Sousek says it's important to include lean meat, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products.

"[It’s] very important that they are getting at least three servings of dairy whether it come from yogurt or cheese or milk. They're still growing, so that calcium is important," Sousek said.

It's not only important to pack a healthy school lunch but also one your child will eat. One idea to encourage that is to get your child involved in the process. For example, you can bring them to the grocery store and let them pick out some of the produce or get them involved in preparing it, like making a fruit kabob.

"One of the fun things they could do basically is the flat out wraps. Those are very nutritious wraps that you can make deli sandwiches out of. They can make a burrito sandwich. They can be involved in that," Sousek said.

Some other ideas include cut-up fruits and cheeses, granola and low-fat yogurt and string cheese.

"It's just kind of keeping lunch fun and economical and to where you're getting the nutrients they need, rather than the same thing every day," Sousek said.

And while Cheyanne enjoys choosing foods for a healthy sack lunch, she doesn't pack her lunch every day because she enjoys a lot of foods the school offers too.

"Chicken patty is probably my favorite," Cheyanne said.

Click here for some examples on healthy school lunches.

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