As Texas children return to the classroom, we are reminded of our responsibility to encourage academic excellence, physical fitness and proper nutrition. A healthy mind and healthy body can lead to a lifetime of rich rewards. Today’s nutritious school-served meals can play a part in feeding both.
The Texas Department of Agriculture and schools around our great state are working together to promote healthy eating habits. Parents and grandparents should really take the time to check out the school cafeteria. In recent years the menus have vastly improved; today, school-served meals are convenient, more affordable than other options and well balanced to provide daily servings of fruits and vegetables, dairy, grains and protein. With childhood obesity a nationwide epidemic, these initiatives provide a much-needed defense against a serious health crisis.
Prepared with nutrition as a priority, school meals can be the cornerstone of an overall healthful diet. What better time to encourage healthy eating than childhood? Growing bodies need proper nutrition, and by encouraging your child to eat well now, you are helping establish eating habits that can combat illness and lead to a longer, healthier life.
It’s also no surprise studies show children who eat right make better grades in the classroom. A healthful diet not only provides energy for physical activity, it also fuels the mental stamina for gaining and retaining knowledge.
Furthermore, school meals make good economic sense. Dollar-for-dollar, a nutritious school-served meal is more affordable than pre-packaged foods bought at the store or brought from home. They also are available at reduced costs or free of charge to those children who qualify. The combination of balanced nutrition, convenience and overall affordability is welcome news for today’s busy parents.
I am also proud to say that schools are leading the way and finding innovative approaches to promote good eating habits. Schools have replaced foods of minimal nutritional value with options that are healthier and tastier than ever before. From breakfast and lunch to snacks and special events, schools are essential to helping our children eat right.
We all want what’s best for our children, and I ‘m pleased to say this school year offers more nutritional promise than ever before. But we need your help. For years parents and teachers have instilled the importance of the 3 Rs ¾ reading, writing and arithmetic. Now we need you to teach your kids and grandkids the importance of what I call the 3 Es to a healthy lifestyle ¾ education, exercise and eating right. Our children are the future of Texas, and how they eat makes a big difference in how well they learn and their overall quality of life.
As students go back to school, prepare them for the rest of their lives by pointing them toward nutritious, convenient and affordable school meals, and make the sensible choice for our children’s healthy minds and bodies.