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Free meals for Meriden youth available through summer

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MERIDEN – School skipped for the summer.

But that doesn’t mean that Susan Maffe’s job of making sure students get at least two meals each day — breakfast and lunch — has been interrupted.

In fact, Maffe, the director of food and nutrition services at Meriden Public Schools, is responsible for overseeing nine food distribution points across town during the summer.

The last day of school was June 10th. Seven of the nine summer meals started on Monday. Maffe said fewer than expected numbers of families have visited these websites so far. She hopes to get the word out on meal availability. All meals are provided free of charge.

Families can visit Barry, Hanover, Pulaski and Israel Putnam Elementary Schools, Washington and Lincoln Middle Schools and Maloney High School, Monday through Friday through August 20, Monday through Friday to pick up breakfast and lunch for their students. Each location will be open for these pickups from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Other locations on Meriden Green and the Splash Pad by City Park on Bunker Avenue will open on Monday, June 21.

The Meriden Green will be open from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM for take away lunch and breakfast. The city park offers lunch, which can be taken on site every day from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

At most locations, families can also pick up extra meals on Fridays to carry them through the weekend.

Maffe, reached by phone, emphasized the importance of ensuring that children continue to have access to balanced meals on a daily basis.

“You can’t put a price tag on the value it will have in someone’s education,” Maffe said. Eating a healthy diet can help improve behavior problems and improve students’ focus and physical health.

The urban school district is entering its fourth year and offering free breakfast and lunch to all students. This program and the summer meal program are both financed by the federal government.

“Stealth nutrition”

Maffe said the meals students receive through this program are often more nutritious than the meals they receive outside of school.

The nutrition staff is required to serve students a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk.

While the concept of eating healthy food may not always seem appetizing, Maffe and her staff strive to ensure that students’ food is both nutritious and tasty.

“We call it Stealth Nutrition,” says Maffe, describing how her staff strive to smuggle nutrient-dense vegetables into students’ meals.

Mayor Kevin Scarpati would agree.

“I think we often forget how important our schools are when it comes to providing nutritious meals to our children. And unfortunately they are often the healthiest meals they have all day, ”said Scarpati. “Being able to offer this in summer and during the holidays is not only important for a healthy diet. It makes it affordable for families who may have difficulty caring for their children. “

Scarpati said it was important to note that families who come by to pick up their children’s lunch also pick up the next day’s breakfast.

Maffe and Scarpati’s comments Thursday came hours after local officials, Governor Ned Lamont, and anti-hunger advocates including leaders of Connecticut Food Bank and Hunger Free America convened a round table discussion on food insecurity concentrated.

A Hunger Free America statement described summer meals as “a critical program that will help fill the gap for students who depend on free and discounted school meals.”

Underutilized

However, the organization found that only one in seven children entitled to such meals have access to them due to a combination of obstacles: transportation, parents’ working hours, and a lack of awareness of their availability.

The organization cited national research that analyzed the 2018-2019 school year and the summer that followed. The study found that more than 183,000 school-age children in Connecticut had participated in the National School Lunch Program. However, the following summer fewer than 35,000 children – less than 20% of those eligible – participated in the summer meal programs.

“Failure to participate in the Summer Meals program not only means children are deprived of nutritious food, it also means millions of dollars in federal reimbursements to the states,” said Hunger Free America.

“As low-income households struggling with poverty and hunger before the health crisis continue to struggle to afford nutritious food, summer meals are more important than ever this summer,” said the organization.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture eased rules to allow schools to offer more free meals to students. Proponents like Hunger Free America are calling on lawmakers to pass the new legislation “so schools can continue to offer free meals to all students, reducing administrative burdens on school districts, eliminating school catering debts for families and engaging among children,” the said Organization.

Meriden School Superintendent Mark Benigni described schools as “one of the healthiest places Americans eat. Participation in summer food service programs that provide nutritious, balanced meals is critical to the overall health of our children, obesity prevention, and summer learning loss mitigation. “

mgagne@record-journal.com203-317-2231Twitter: @MikeGagneRJ

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Healthy Eating

Here’s how longer lunch breaks may encourage kids to eat more fruits, vegetables | Health

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Parents, watch out! When kids have lunch at school, fruits and vegetables may not be their first choice. But with more time at lunch, they are more likely to resort to these healthy foods, a new study found.

The results of the study were published in the journal “JAMA Network Open”.

If we’re looking to improve children’s diet and health, taking longer school lunches can help meet those goals, according to a study by the University of Illinois.

“A sitting lunch break of ten minutes or less is quite common. The scheduled lunch break may be longer, but students will have to stand in line to get their food. And sometimes sharing lunch breaks with breaks Meals are much shorter than the scheduled time, “said Melissa Pflugh Prescott, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I.

Prescott and study co-authors Xanna Burg, Jessica Metcalfe, and Brenna Ellison compared fruit and vegetable consumption during 10 and 20 minutes of sedentary lunchtime, and the results were clear.

“During the shorter lunch breaks, children ate significantly fewer fruits and vegetables in their meal, while there was no significant difference in the amount of drinks or main dishes consumed. It makes sense that you eat the part of the meal you are looking for, forward to the first, and when there is enough time left, you can move on to the other parts. But when there isn’t enough time, these items suffer, and they’re usually fruits and vegetables, “Prescott explained.

This particularly affects children from low-income families who participate in the National School Lunch Program and may not have the resources to bring their own lunch from home in order to avoid lunchtime waiting times, she added.

Prescott and her colleagues conducted the study using elementary and middle school children enrolled in a summer camp on the University of Illinois campus. The researchers set up the lunch area as a school canteen, where students walk through the food line and choose their food. They prepared meals according to the guidelines of the National School Lunch Program.

“We tried to make this as comparable as possible to everyday school life. We worked with the local school district and used the same grocers as they did and we selected the menu items based on the local public school menu, ”explained Prescott.

Each day was randomly assigned to either a short or a long lunch day. Each short lunch menu was paired with a long lunch menu with an identical menu. The researchers wanted to rule out that the foods offered would lead to differences in the children’s diet.

Research assistants took a photo of each tray as the children left the food line. They monitored the time from when the children sat down to the end of the meal and observed behavior throughout the meal, including eating together, interacting with peers, and using the phone.

After the lunch break, the children put their tray with the leftovers on a rack and completed a two-question survey about the taste and appearance of their meal. The researchers measured all the servings before and after the meal to get an estimate of how much each child ate.

While fruit was consumed more frequently than vegetables overall, consumption of both types of food was significantly higher during longer lunch breaks, Prescott said, introduced in 2010 to improve nutritional standards for school meals.

“In my opinion, one of the best things about the new nutritional standards is that a variety of vegetables are served each week to ensure that children of all income and resource strata are given a variety of healthy foods that they may not have access to but when we have lunch breaks that is too short to give children the opportunity to get used to these foods, then we are putting the guidelines close to failure, “said Prescott.

“The most important finding from our study is that children need protected time to eat their fruits and vegetables. Our findings support guidelines that include at least a 20-minute sedentary lunch break in school, ”she said.

Lunchtime guidelines can be set at the district level, with some leeway for individual schools to set their own standards; For example, schools may introduce a longer lunch break than the district mandates dictate.

Prescott found that longer lunchtimes, in addition to a healthy diet, can also have positive effects on children.

“The time the children have sitting is also a very valuable time for them to get in touch with their peers. You may have limited opportunities to do this throughout the school day. We saw significantly fewer social interactions during the 10-minute lunch break, suggesting other positive results may come from longer lunch breaks, “she concluded.

This story was published through a news agency feed with no changes to the text. Only the heading was changed.

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Healthy Eating

The #1 Best Food to Eat to Reduce Inflammation, Says Dietitian

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Is It Really Possible To Choose A Food To Reduce Inflammation? According to Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LD, CDCES, FAND, Diabetes Lifestyle Expert at DiabetesEveryDay and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.

“It’s hard to pick just one food as the best food to reduce inflammation,” says Smithson. “Reducing inflammation is a holistic nutritional approach that follows the guidelines for the Mediterranean Diet. More specifically, it’s a diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. “

According to a study published by Cambridge University Press in the journal Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, the Mediterranean diet may reduce chronic inflammation, which may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, research shows that the Mediterranean diet is also linked to longer life and is also regularly ranked as the best diet for weight loss.

However, while many of the foods in the Mediterranean diet are helpful in reducing inflammation, there is one food in particular that is particularly powerful in reducing inflammation and that is cherries.

Cherries are high on the list for reducing inflammation“Says Smithson. “They get an A + for their antioxidant content (anthocyanins, beta-carotene, and vitamin C) as well as polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and can stop damage to your cells. Studies have shown that cherries reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. “

Thanks to these antioxidants, cherries can help reduce inflammation from joint pain and even swelling from arthritis. Studies also show that tart cherry juice is also helpful in reducing inflammation.

Now that you are aware of all of the amazing anti-inflammatory benefits of eating cherries, you may as well include them in your diet! Here are a few healthy recipes made with this sweet fruit that you can easily make at home. Then check out our list of the 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make.

Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Enjoy this sweet fruit in a creamy smoothie bowl in the morning, topped with coconut chips, cocoa nibs and cherries, of course.

Get our recipe for a chocolate-covered cherry smoothie bowl.

Chocolate and cherry bread pudding with pistachios in a baking tray with spoonWaterbury Publications, Inc.

Use some leftover bread and beat that cherry bread pudding for dessert one night! This bread pudding uses two whole cups of cherries that give you that cherry goodness with every bite.

Get our recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding with Pistachios.

Honey pecan cherry granolaJason Donnelly / Eat This, Not That!

Use up your bag of dried cherries and prepare this granola for easy yogurt parfaits on busy mornings!

Get our Honey Pecan Cherry Muesli recipe.

melted lava cherry chocolate cake with frozen yogurt and spoon on black plateJason Donnelly

Melted lava cake with cherries for dessert? It doesn’t get much better than that. Unless, of course, it’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Get our recipe for Pressure Cooker Melted Lava Chocolate Cherry Cake.

Paleo fruit smoothie in a glass on wooden surfaceRebecca Firkser / Eat This, Not That!

This two-layer fruit smoothie combines a peach smoothie bottom with a cherry smoothie top. It’s paleo, which means you don’t have to worry about dairy or added sugar!

Get our recipe for Easy Paleo Fruit Smoothie.

Get even more healthy tips straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter! After that, read this next:

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Healthy Eating

US Labor Department to offer virtual seminars in August about prevailing wage requirements

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LUMBERTON – Cooking summer vegetables with fresh herbs is a delicious variant of summer products. With the Robeson County Farmers Market now open, as well as other product stalls across the county, it’s the perfect time to explore fresh herb growing and / or cooking. Whether you plant them yourself or buy them at the farmer’s market or in the grocery store, using fresh herbs you can quickly transform ordinary meals into extraordinary dishes.

In addition to helping the taste of foods while saving on salt, fat, and sugar, herbs can provide additional benefits. Researchers have found that many culinary herbs (both fresh and dried) contain antioxidants that can help protect against diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Cutting a fresh herb into a dish also instantly gives the appearance an extra boost!

Unless your recipe dictates otherwise, add more delicate herbs like basil, chives, coriander, dill leaves, parsley, and mint a minute or two before the end of cooking, or sprinkle them over the food just before serving. Somewhat less delicate herbs like oregano, rosemary, and thyme can be added in the last 20 minutes of cooking. A general guideline when using fresh herbs in a recipe is to triple the amount of any dried herb. When replacing, it is often more successful to replace dried herbs with fresh herbs than the other way around. Think, for example, of potato salad with fresh versus dried parsley!

Buy herbs just before you plan to use them. If you’re growing herbs in your own garden, the ideal time to pick them is in the morning, after the dew has dried, but before the sun gets hot. This helps to ensure the best taste and storage quality. You can store fresh herbs in an open or perforated plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator for a few days. If you don’t have access to commercially available perforated bags, use a sharp object to drill several small holes in a normal plastic bag.

When you have more herbs than you can eat, enjoy herbal bouquets all over the house. You can either use individual herbs or combinations of herbs, or use the herbs as greens mixed with other flowers. To preserve the aroma and color of your herbal bouquets, place them out of direct sunlight.

One of my difficulties with using fresh herbs is knowing the best combinations. Here are a few suggestions;

– Basil goes great with tomatoes and great with fresh pesto.

– Chives can be added to dips, potatoes and tomatoes.

– Coriander is used in salsas and tomatoes and is used in Mexican, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines.

– Dill enhances the taste of carrots, cottage cheese, fish, green beans, potatoes and tomatoes.

– Mint is often used in carrots, fruit salads, parsley, peas, tabbouleh and teas.

– Oregano gives flavor to peppers and tomatoes.

– Parsley – the curled leaf is the most common, but the flat leaf or Italian parsley is more flavorful and is often preferred for cooking. Naturals for parsley are potato salad, tabbouleh, and egg salad sandwiches.

– Rosemary is often used in chicken, fish, lamb, pork, fried potatoes, soups, stews, and tomatoes.

– Sage can refine beef, chicken, potatoes, pork, carrots and summer squash.

– Thyme is often used with eggs, lima beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, and tomatoes.

Adapted from Fresh Herbs: A Healthy Eating Image from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension.

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