My name is Chelsea Smyth and I’m a registered dietitian. I am also the current school meals fellow for National PTA and have been working closely with the 25 National PTA Healthy School Meals Grantees to help as they work to improve nutrition in their schools.
In celebration of National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Month, I want to highlight five common school meals issues that many schools face, and the solutions our grantees have pursued. Maybe you’ll want to try one of these ideas at your school!
Issue 1: The Cafeteria Isn’t Inviting or Doesn’t Support Healthy Messaging or Behaviors.
School-aged children are at the age when they form dietary preferences and habits and the cafeteria has the ability to promote healthy or unhealthy food habits. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the healthy choice is always the easy choice.
Many schools identified that the cafeterias were unwelcoming and the items on the service line needed to be rearranged to encourage healthy behavior. We have five PTAs who are going to be updating their cafeteria with murals of healthy choices. Another four PTAs are rearranging items within the service line to make the healthier choice the easy choice, such as placing white milk before flavored milks and adding grab-and-go fruits and vegetables to the beginning and end of the service lines.
Issue 2: Poor Meal and Menu Quality
Working on meal and menu quality can be an opportunity to advocate for healthier, tastier menu items and food preparation practices that improve students’ enjoyment of mealtime. Updating the school meal menus was the most popular task that our Healthy Schools Meals grantees set out to accomplish.
Nine PTAs are going to be conducting taste tests with students and families to gain feedback for new menu items. These taste tests are planned to occur in the cafeteria, the classroom and after school events. We even have a PTA in New Jersey that is going to have a Top Chef-style competition utilizing produce grown in their school garden. The winning recipe will be featured on their school lunch menu.
Issue 3: Negative Family and Student Perceptions of What is Being Served
Increasing parent and student perceptions and knowledge of the school meals program can help increase participation and support. Communicating to students and families all of the all great work our PTAs are working on is a key component to the School Meals Grants.
My favorite example of improve school meals communication is happening in a local PTA in Wisconsin, where students will be making videos highlighting their school lunch program and nutrition, which will be shared on the school’s social media channels.
Issue 4: School Nutrition Staff Need Updated Training and Equipment
If food service teams don’t have proper training or up-to-date equipment, it is difficult for them to provide students with healthy, tasty school meals.
To fix this issue, six PTAs are implementing new salad bars in their schools. Several PTAs chose to purchase new water dispensers to provide student with clean, fresh water as a beverage alternative, some of which feature a water bottle counting feature to tally how much water that the students are distributing. We also have one PTA that has provided training to the food service staff on preparation and food presentation techniques.
Issue 5: School Wellness Policies Don’t Enforce Serving Healthy Food to Students
Ensuring local and district wellness policies promote strong nutrition standards, provide students with adequate time to eat and limit the sale of unhealthy food items can help make healthier food choices the easier choices.
We have several PTA grantees who are working to improve their school wellness policies. These PTAs are going to work with the school-level and district-level administration to create healthier environments for their students. A common theme among these PTAs is ensuring that students have adequate time to go through line and eat their meal.
These are just a few highlights of the plans for the Healthy Schools Meals grantees. Do you see something that you would like to learn more about? Is there a strategy that you would like to try? Check out the School Meals Leaders Guide at PTA.org/SchoolMeals or email Programs@PTA.org for more ideas and information on how to organize a school meals team, evaluate your current school meals program and make important changes to improve your child’s nutrition.
Chelsea Smyth is a registered dietitian who is currently works in the clinical setting. She is pursuing a master’s degree in public health from George Mason University and hopes to combine her nutrition background and public health degree to work towards obesity prevention.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
Are you looking to support your PTA by becoming a better leader? One way you can help your Local Unit PTA excel is by making sure it is in compliance with the IRS!
Many local and state leaders don’t realize that every PTA, due to being a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, must file some type of paperwork with the IRS every year. To help support our local and state PTAs with this issue, National PTA is developing a series of e-Learning courses on how to maintain your 501(c)(3) status regardless of your PTA size or income!
The first of these courses, Maintaining Your PTA’s 501(c)(3) Status, is set to be released . This course looks at the issue of revocation through the eyes of a Local PTA leader and walks you through the process of maintaining your Local PTA’s 501(c)(3) status.
In just 10 minutes, this e-Learning course will help you will identify the last time your PTA filed paperwork with the IRS and learn how to properly fill out your IRS paperwork for filing on time each year.
Have more questions about managing your PTA’s IRS paperwork? No problem! Maintaining Your PTA’s 501(c)(3) Status will be only the first in a series of finance courses based on this subject that will be released over the next few months!
Have general questions about managing your PTA’s finances? We can help with that, too! Over the past few months we have released other finance-related e-Learning courses to help local PTA leaders with some other areas of interest:
We believe that these new micro-courses give our members the flexibility to learn about a subject they are interested in or need help with over a very short amount of time, which fits better into all of their busy lives.
To access the PTA eLearning courses, visit PTA.org/eLearning. You will find our entire e-Learning library of 17 full-length courses, three micro-courses and four of our most popular e-Learning courses in Spanish!
Make sure to be on the lookout for more updates on National PTA eLearning courses in the future via National PTA’s Twitter and Facebook pages!
Jonathan Baker is the e-learning manager at National PTA.
Friday, November 4, 2016
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
Parents have always played catch-up to their children’s technology use. As a parent of four sons ages 13-21, I feel this struggle more than ever. The iPhone was brand new technology when my oldest son entered seventh grade, but by the time my youngest got to middle school, most of his friends had smart phones. Our family rules became obsolete . We had to get creative.
The Struggle Is Real
This year, from his high school Cell Phone Bill of Rights, my child learned “phones and other technology are the greatest distraction to academic focus ever invented and will be treated as such.”
But on his Chromebook check-out forms, we learned the school district is “excited to bring innovation into the classroom.”
As our children face these conflicting messages, I’ve watched huddled groups of parents whisper, “What are you doing about the Chromebooks?”
We Use Circle
When other parents ask us how we manage devices and time online, I tell them that we have Circle.
Circle is a device that pairs wirelessly with your home Wi-Fi and allows you to manage every device on your network. Using the Circle app, families can create unique profiles for each family member.
We use Circle to set time limits for YouTube, Netflix and online games to remind our kids to prioritize school work. Because sleep is important, we set a Bedtime so the Wi-Fi turns off on every one of their devices. They still choose when to go to sleep, but they have a fighting chance with that early alarm.
On the weekends, I sometimes Pause the Internet (which is easy with Circle) so that we can reconnect and the kids can rediscover offline activities they love.
It’s Made an Impact
My eighth grader recently confessed that it was “actually good” that he had a Time Limit. Circle helps me encourage good tech habits. When the “Looks like you’ve hit your Time Limit” message appears, my kids know I care about them.
Want to pause the internet and reclaim some family time at your house, too? Learn more about Circle and use code PTA2016 to get $10 OFF at MeetCircle.com.
Editor’s Note: In addition to considering devices like Circle, check out TheSmartTalk.org for a free resource from National PTA and LifeLock that gets parents and kids together for a guided conversation about being responsible with new technology.
Circle is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.
Anne Bryan is a long-time school volunteer and served as President and Treasurer at her local middle school parent group. She is an advisor to Circle Media Inc.
3-2-1 LIFT OFF!
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