ActivEd Blog

Be healthy & fit Friday: Farm-to-school meals

Posted by Kristi Gottwalt on Dec 9, 2016 10:02:00 AM

In most districts, school lunches are prepared efficiently. Rarely are they made from scratch with farm-fresh ingredients. However, Oakland Unified School District has become a national model for farm-fresh cafeteria food. Up to 80% of the produce served in the school cafeteria comes from nearby farms; and there is a drive to make sure pasta and meat are wholesome as well. 

The Oakland school board is planning to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Policy, a pledge to buy fresh, healthy, and sustainable food. From an article in the San Francisco Chronicle

“It’s something we can measure ourselves by,” said Jennifer LeBarre, director of student nutrition services for the district, which has focused on getting food sourced from within 250 miles since starting a farm-to-school program in 2008. “With that, we’ve been able to achieve double-digit decreases on our carbon footprint.”

Part of the impetus for Oakland’s farm-to-school program is funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration, so it’s unclear what will happen to such grants in the next, Republican-led administration. Advocates of progressive school food policies are concerned there will be a rollback of programs serving low-income communities.

Healthy food is great, but what do the kids think? 

Getting a 5-year-old to try a bowl of very green tabbouleh salad isn’t always easy. But kindergartner Jera Flenaugh was game to taste the chopped parsley, tomato and bulgur dish during lunch at Glenview Elementary in Oakland last week.

“It tastes like not-hot salsa,” said Jera, her smile missing a front tooth as she put a sticker under the “Loved it” column on a poster set up in the cafeteria to tally student votes. “It was awesome.”

Healthy students learn better. From nutrition to exercise, making sure kids are fit to learn is important. Learn more about how ActivEd can help. 

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Be healthy & fit Friday: Kids are eating healthier, but...

Posted by Kristi Gottwalt on Dec 2, 2016 8:11:00 AM

A new study has great news! According to a new review, kids are reducing the number of calories they eat and increasing their healthy food intake. From Health News:

Kids today are eating more food that's good for them: whole grains, whole fruits, dairy, and protein from seafood and plants. And, just as important, they are more likely to avoid sugar-laden foods and drinks full of empty calories, according to a review of children's diet trends between 1999 and 2012.

While this is good news, there are still a few challenges. Kids are eating more salt, and vegetables are still low on the list of what children eat. More on the study:

During the study period, the average Healthy Eating Index score rose to 50.9 in 2012 from 42.5 in 1999, as children ate more healthy foods and more often avoided empty calories, the investigators discovered.

"It's far from the optimal level of 100," Gu said. "The increasing trend is encouraging, but the current dietary quality level is disappointing."

The study found that kids did eat more whole grains, but they had an average whole grains score of only 2 in 2012 -- far below the maximum of 10, Gu noted. Likewise, children had a whole fruit intake score of 2.1, and the optimal score is 5.

While processed foods are likely to blame for higher salt intake, it is encouraging to know that kids are eating healthier! Looking for healthy snacks for your kids? Check out this list

Being healthy requires healthy food choices and regular exercise. That's where ActivEd can help! Learn more!

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Be healthy & fit Friday: Thanksgiving Calories

Posted by Kristi Gottwalt on Nov 25, 2016 6:35:00 AM

Yesterday, we celebrated a national day of Thanksgiving. Celebrating what we are thankful for is important. Most of us are grateful for our health and the health of our loved ones. As we settled around the table, how many calories did we consume? More importantly, how much exercise do we need to burn off those calories? Check out the infographic from for an overview. 



Looking for a way to get your kids active after a big Thanksgiving meal? ActivEd can help. Learn more!

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Be healthy & fit Friday: Childhood obesity screening

Posted by Kristi Gottwalt on Nov 18, 2016 6:35:00 AM

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States—1 out of 3 children are obese. Obesity leads to problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. Health officials are looking for unique solutions to help curb obesity. 

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has produced new guidelines that urge pediatricians to begin screening children for obesity at the age of 6. The task force has been examining successful programs to help children keep a healthy weight. 

From an article in the LA Times

The authors of the proposed guidelines are under no illusion that universal obesity screening will be a silver bullet. Even the best programs to modify kids’ behavior resulted in only a “moderate” benefit, they wrote. But the downside risks of screening are “small to none,” they wrote.

The types of programs that work involve at least 26 hours of counseling over several weeks or months. The more hours involved, the better the results.

Successful programs reviewed by the task force included counseling sessions not just for children who were obese but for parents and other family members as well. They taught patients how to improve their eating habits, including the importance of reading labels on packaged foods. They showed patients ways to exercise safely. They taught kids to keep tempting treats out of sight (and out of mind). And they helped them learn how to set goals for themselves, and monitor their progress toward reaching them.

In 16 clinical trials that tested these programs, most participants gained no more than 5 pounds while growing in height, leading to lower BMIs. Meanwhile, patients assigned to control groups gained up to 17 pounds.

Healthy kids are more likely to succeed academically and to have higher self esteem.

Looking for creative ways to keep your students active? Walkabouts helps prekindergarten through second grade students move while they learn language arts, reading, and math concepts! Want to find out how Walkabouts can help keep your students healthy? Learn more!

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Be healthy & fit Friday: Dinner and TV?

Posted by Kristi Gottwalt on Nov 11, 2016 8:37:31 AM

What effect does leaving the television on during meals have on the health of your family? Researchers from the University of Minnesota recently found out. Families that eat with the TV on eat less healthy meals and enjoy their meals less than families who turn off the television off during meal times. 

From the Reuters article:

“Family meals are protective for many aspects of child health,” lead author Amanda Trofholz said by email, adding that parents can take this time to check in with children and teach them about setting limits on their diets.

“Having the TV on during the family meal may reduce the opportunity for this connection between family members and blunt the protective effects of the meal,” said Trofholz, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Of the 120 families that took part in the study, 33% of families turned off the TV off during all meals, and 43% of families left the TV on during all meals. The bottom line: turning off the TV and focusing on your family will help everyone enjoy the food and each other more! 



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