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Part 2: What Is Still In Your Childs School Lunch? Four More Ways to Make a Change
by Eden Kozlowski
ATH Co-Editor of Meditation



Editor's Note from Carol Lawrence & Stacy Toten: Eden wrote a follow up article regarding the lunches schools are serving in our country to our children to this very day. This new article is a follow up to her original article a year ago and it's worth the few minutes it takes to read it. This is a call to action to all parents, an intervention is desperately needed. We recommend you go to the schools, witness the school lunches with your own eyes. It will be a real eye opener. We encourage you to speak up, use your voice, talk to those in charge, and take a look at the websites she's recommended. Your voice is needed in the fight for healthy food for all of our children. It's all of our futures. Thank you Eden, once again for bringing this to all of our attention.  See Part 1

"What we feed our kids not only effects their brains, but also impacts their schools performance."
~ Mandi Babkes


Last year I wrote a story for All Things Healing reviewing the nutritional impact of a lunch served at a public school in my area. Ahhh, another season has come and gone, and I feel it’s time to check in… to see if there has been some change… some evolution in the complex world of the school cafeteria.

And, alas, I have great reason to write a “Part 2” not only because there seems to be minimal shift in the quality of food served but as a parent... as a member of society... I am also responsible in some way for the wellbeing of our adults, kids and teens. I have to look at America's obesity challenge and our health struggles and ask myself how I am aiding in these issues. If I do nothing or think that one story is enough, the issue persists.

Drum roll please – so, once again… have you really contemplated what your child or teen is eating at school? Below is another photo taken on an average day that happens to be strikingly similar to the lunch that I showcased last year (overly yellow). And below it my two buddies who are certified nutritionists give their expert opinions not only on nutritional factors but how this meal also impacts energy and brain function.


First, let’s hear from Mandi Babkes, MNH, HHC, AADP, QRA with Holistic Health with Mandi:

"According to the school district in which this lunch was presented, ‘All menus exceed Federal guidelines Recommended Daily Allowances and are planned by a Registered Dietitian... all schools will have at a minimum of one fresh fruit and vegetable offering each day.’ Are these dietitians and school representatives seeing the same meal as we are in this photo?

Corn chips and saturated, fat-laden potatoes cannot be considered a fresh vegetable. And this orangish-red, Jell-o-ish substance (see actual Jell-o ingredient label with cautionary ingredients in red) is far from fresh fruit. The website Sugar Stacks is devoted to breaking down nutritional values and percentages of sugar in foods. Jell-o is actually loaded with calories and sugar.

The sandwich, which is quite difficult to even predict exactly what it consists of, is presented on a white, bleached flour bun which holds absolutely zero nutritional value, zero fiber and zero whole-grain goodness.

Overall, this lunch is loaded with sugar and processed/toxic foods. Studies prove that sugar, high fructose corn syrup and food additives are fueling childhood obesity, immune suppression, attention/behavioral disorders and disease. Dyes that make the Jell-os red have been linked to cancer, allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children.

Finally, this school states that they are compliant with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation's standards. The Alliance has a nifty calculator that determines if items meet the new USDA Smart Snacks in School Guidelines. When I input in the nutritional values of the corn chips and Jell-o into the calculator, just to test, the verdict reads, ‘Your product is not compliant. Your product is not a whole grain product; does not have a first ingredient that is a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein food; is not combination food with at least 1/4 cup of fruit and/or vegetable; OR does not contain 10% of the Daily Value of a nutrient of public health concern.’

In closing, what we feed our kids not only affects their brains, but also impacts their school performance. We must take action to ensure the healthiest futures for our children and generations to come.


" Next, is Heather Lentz with Koi Vitality Health Coaching:

“Wow! I can't believe this is a school lunch. I see an imbalance of calories, fats, vitamins and minerals. And, I see lethargic kids and poor academic performance as the result.

Food can inhibit cognitive and energy potentials when it doesn't provide proper nutrition. Studies have shown the impact of dietary intake on normal brain function through neurotransmitters. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences notes, ‘Protein in meat, fish, milk and cheese are used to create neurotransmitters. A lack of protein, known as protein energy malnutrition, leads to poor student performance and children becoming passive and withdrawn.’

Further, fat makes up 60% + of the brain, and Omega-3 fatty acids are important for optimal brain performance. Lack of these fats can lead to depression, poor memory, low IQ, learning disabilities and ADD. Fish, nuts, shrimp and cauliflower are high sources of Omega-3 fats. Lastly, vitamins and minerals are important for brain function and can be obtained through a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, eggs, beef, chicken and seafood.

Research increasingly supports the link between nutrition and learning ability. Healthy eating is essential for students to achieve full academic potential, mental growth and lifelong health.”

4 More Ways to Make A Change.

1. Yes, I know… this is a repeat… but PACK LUNCH! This is still the easiest and most effective route for the short term. OMG, after reading what Heather and Mandi wrote, start today even if once a week or once a month. Anything! For inspiration: Pack Lunch Like a Celebrity Chef (37 recipes) and from Bon Appétit (25 lunch recipes). And, one of the easiest ideas, in my book, is leftovers like homemade soup or chili. All ya’ need is a good thermos.

2. Be a voice. Volunteer in your child’s lunchroom or go eat with your kid and investigate what goes on. See if your school offers a la carte items like candy and gum. These items are frequently heavily marketed to schools and go unregulated. Step it up and request to have a discussion to have these items removed or restricted. Or if your school serves those sugar loaded strawberry and chocolate milks, have the guts to ask them to be removed, or only offered on Fridays or gently positioned behind the white milk (a study showed that this small move cuts down on consumption and increases the drinking of white milk). Typically when I visit during lunch, it seems that 85-95% of the buyers chug flavored milks. If you were eight and your momma wasn’t there, wouldn’t you?

3. Search for others who are thinking outside-of-the-box. One of the challenges of enhancing school lunch is the cost. Some schools grow their own food. I live in farm country, farm to school concepts are so very interesting. If I had the option to give my child a healthy school lunch, I would pay extra $ and help support those that couldn’t afford a price increase. And, finally, find bigger picture initiatives to support that have already made creative headway. For example, forget about your political association… rally around Michelle Obama’s efforts with Let’s Move. And, check out The Lunch Box.

4. Here is an exercise to try at home to increase food awareness. As I am a mindfulness and meditation teacher by trade, I suggest that you bring mindfulness to your dinner table. At your next family meal start by removing all distractions: tv, cell phones, magazines. Distractions while eating can cause you to ingest more and not pay attention to important body signals, like being full.

Then, take one item on your plate and every one eat it very, very slowly in tiny, tiny bites in silence while observing all senses and sensations. Note colors, textures, how fresh the food smells and how your body responds. Then, discuss. That small bit of focus can easily change your perspective on certain edibles and possibly encourage everyone in your household to be more connected with their food from how it tastes to where it comes from and how it is raised/grown.

Ok, so what are YOU going to do. It doesn’t take much, right? Heck, just pass this article around. If we all do a little bit – a little bit can go a long way. And, one last suggestion, show your kids the Sugar Stacks website (which Mandi references above). Sometimes a visual is worth a thousand words. The beverage page is mind blowing. Go blow some minds!



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About the Author


Eden's passion is helping people, her community and her world live the way of the heart – an inspired and rich way of being. Founder and CEO of Just Be, LLC – a dynamic company rooted in meditation/mindfulness practices – she gracefully shows individuals, teachers, students, companies and professionals how to de-stress and foster mental, physical and emotional wellness. Listen to Eden's free meditations and Be-isms and contact her for private sessions or classes via just-be.info. Also, read her blog on The Huffington Post.




Website: just-be.info
Blog: The Huffington Post
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JustBeMeditation
Twitter: @JustBeMeditate

Akron, OH USA




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