We know fruits and veggies are good for children, but the challenge is how to get them to enjoy them on a regular basis? To school staff, parents and concerned Central Texans, we say flex your advocacy muscles to get results.
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
It can take several tries before kids get used to the taste of a variety of veggies and be willing to eat them regularly. Habits are most likely to form when there’s a routine, daily reminders and consistency. That’s where your advocacy for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization can go a long way. This federal legislation has the power to put free and low-cost veggies and other healthy foods on the menu for all children, including pregnant women, in a variety of settings. Children are reminded to eat vegetables at school through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, after school through the Child and Adult-Care Feeding Program, during the summer through the Summer Food Service Program and at home through the Women, Infants, and Children Program, all of which are funded through this legislation.
Make it fun, interactive and beautiful.
Busy parents are probably thinking, “Who has time for that!” The good thing is that you don’t have to do it all yourself or go it alone. In Texas, there’s a wonderful program called Brighter Bites that will deliver fresh produce to kids at home and teach them how to make them taste great. These classes are available throughout the school year and even during the summer at schools, after school programs, YMCAs and places of worship. And yes, it’s free because Texas Legislators, well known for being fiscally frugal, have deemed this program a worthwhile investment. Right now, the program is only available in Houston and Dallas, but this Texas Legislative session, you can help expand the program to Central Texas. Give your elected officials the extra nudge to bring this program to your community by contacting them today.
Bring the good food home.
Seems simple enough. Keep fruits and veggies at home as a snack option and kids are more likely to reach for them. But for parents with a drug conviction and a limited food budget, it isn’t that easy. You see, these parents in Texas are banned for life from ever receiving food stamps to purchase vegetables and other healthy foods. No other felony conviction has this provision. The idea was to prevent illegal drug abuse and reduce fraud, but the real impact is on the children who had nothing to do with their parent’s crime. Tell your Texas Legislators it’s bananas these parents have a harder time giving their kids bananas.
Let kids do the shopping.
Experts recommend giving children a sense of control over their choices to help reinforce good habits. Let’s put children in charge of the grocery cart the next time they go out food shopping. Parents can set a few simple ground rules such as the food needs to be a new fruit or veggie, or to pick a certain color or to choose their favorite. Let the child pay to complete the shopping experience. For an even greater sense of independence, teens can go out without mom or dad micro-managing every purchase. Unfortunately, these adventurous shopping trips can be a real challenge if the Texas Legislature passes a bill that would require photo IDs on food stamp cards. Do we really want a child to have to show their photo identification just to purchase kale? Tell your Texas Legislators “kale no” on photo IDs on food stamp cards today.
Let them have all they want.
Nothing is more heartbreaking than having to say no to your child asking to do something that’s good for them because you can’t afford it. We’re working with food banks across Texas and with Feeding Texas to help parents say yes to good food more often. Ask your Texas Legislator about how he or she is voting to support the funding for Feeding With Impact, our proposal to provide more Texas produce to families turning to food banks and pantries for help.
Thank you for making Central Texas a healthier place for children to grow up.