• Frequently Asked Questions

    • What are the schools in Collier County doing about the childhood obesity epidemic?

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      The school year is the healthiest time of year for children. A recent study showed that children gained the most weight (beyond the growth chart) in the non-school summer months. During the school year, students are on a schedule, physical activity is structured, school meals are portion/calorie controlled, and screen time is limited. Six of our schools have already been awarded with the national USDA Healthier U.S. School Challenge Award – Gold Level, for their initiatives to incorporate wellness and nutrition opportunities throughout the school day. Collier County Public Schools is committed to advancing the health and wellness of our students and staff. This year we are providing new health and wellness tools along with guidance for our schools to support the health and wellness of our students and staff.
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    • What can families do about the childhood obesity epidemic?

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      Get started and get moving! Focus on healthy habits for the whole family. More: physical activity and playtime, sleep, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber rich foods, real food, water, fat free/low fat dairy, family dinners at home. Less: screen time (no more than 2 hours per day), sugary foods, sugary drinks, super-sized foods and beverages, low fiber foods, high fat foods, meals in front of the TV. Help children recognize hunger, when to stop eating and avoid the trap of the “clean plate club”. Support and get involved in your school’s health and wellness initiatives.
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    • Are school meals healthy?

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      The menus for school breakfast and school lunch in Collier County Schools follow the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements that reinforce the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Whole-grain breads, pasta, rice, cereals and tortillas are featured on our menus and are needed for healthy digestion. Vitamin A-rich, dark green, leafy vegetables and red/orange vegetables are planned each week. Fiber and B vitamin-rich legumes/beans are included on the menu each week. Fat-free and 1% low-fat milk that provides 9 essential nutrients are offered at every meal. Saturated fat is limited to 10% or less. Sodium and sugar is limited. Foods are portion controlled and calories are age appropriate for healthy growth. Our menus and food purchases are planned and supervised by our Registered Dietitian.
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    • Where can I find information about the foods served at school?

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      School menus are posted on the Nutrition Services website. Please click here to view current menus. Nutrient and allergy information is also available.
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    • I want to bring in something for my elementary child’s birthday. What is allowed?

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      Non-food school celebrations are great! Too many “empty calorie” foods compromise good nutrition and promote childhood obesity. Please check out our guidelines for Healthy Celebrations and Parties in the School Toolkit.
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    • What are “empty calorie” foods?

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      Empty calorie foods and beverages contain high amounts of sugar with little or no nutrition value. If the food ingredient label starts with (first or after water) sugar – including agave nectar, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, honey, maple syrup, molasses or sucrose – that is a clue that it is an empty calorie food. Examples of empty calorie foods that should be limited/avoided are: candy, pastries and high sugar snack foods. Examples of empty calorie beverages that should be limited/avoided are: soda, regular sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and other sweetened drinks. Water is the preferred drink for children along with portion controlled (8 ounce) fat-free and low-fat milk and portion controlled (4 ounce) 100% fruit or vegetable juice.
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    • What are the most common food allergies?

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      The eight foods that are most likely to cause food allergies are: peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
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    • How much sleep should children get at night to be prepared for their school day?

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      Children under the age of 5 years need 11 hours or more. Children ages 5 to 10 years need 10 hours or more. Children ages 10 to 18 years need at least 9 hours or more. Adults need about 7 – 8 hours of sleep. Ways to set the stage for a good night’s sleep include: have a set routine and bedtime; include story time in the routine; read to your child or if they are old enough, have them read to you; lights off, quiet time and no technology are important to a restful sleep. Experts advise that children’s sleeping areas should be free of television, computers, and technology devices. “Vampire lights” and cell phone sounds are frequently cited as disrupting needed deep sleep.
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    • Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

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      Research continues to reveal that eating breakfast is essential to good health and maximum performance. Students that eat breakfast perform better on standardized tests, exhibit better behavior and are more prepared to learn. People that eat breakfast are more likely to maintain an appropriate body weight. Breakfast is available at no charge to our students every school day. Breakfast menus meet the USDA nutrition guidelines and feature a selection of portion controlled entrees; fruit or fruit juice and fat-free or low-fat milk.
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    • How much exercise should children get every day?

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      Children and teenagers need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day beyond the time that is spent in school for healthy growth and energy balance. Collier County Public Schools' physical education program is based on the state standards and follows the curriculum requirements for physical education.
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    • My child doesn’t like to exercise. How can I help?

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      Make physical activity fun! Choose activities that your child enjoys or that you can do together. Dance, ride bikes, skate, play at the park, jumping rope, hula hoop, throw and catch the ball, swim, walk the beach, walk the mall, garden, tennis, play with the dog, gymnastics/tumbling, nature walks, etc. Remember to avoid the hottest part of the day and use sun protection. If you watch television, turn every commercial into a fitness break with stretching, marching in place and movement! Check out 100 Ways Exercise Will Enrich the Quality of Your Life.
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    • How do I get my child to eat more vegetables?

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      Humans need at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetable each day to achieve adequate vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Only 20 percent of high school students report eating at least 5 servings. Serve vegetables every day at home. They can be raw, cooked or in salads. Offer raw vegetables as a snack. Low-fat ranch dressing as a dipping sauce is a favorite. Encourage your children to select one or two vegetables with their school lunch. There are choices of salad and raw or cooked vegetables every day. Let your child select a vegetable to try from the produce section of the grocery store or market. Have your child help prepare the vegetables – wash, peel, cut, season with herbs, etc. Grow a garden or some patio vegetables together and enjoy the harvest. Most important – be a good role model and eat vegetables together!
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    • My child has a food allergy. Can she eat breakfast and lunch at school?

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      If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, be sure to answer the questions on the Annual Student Emergency Information Card sent home at the beginning of the school year. It is important that you talk with the school nurse and complete a Student Allergy Health History so that an appropriate plan is developed for your child. Also notify your child’s teacher and the school’s nutrition services manager about the specific allergy. If your child has a severe allergy requiring life-saving medication, the specific plan for your child will include avoidance of the allergen and an Emergency Action Plan. If a special meal is requested, have the child’s health care professional (doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner) complete the Physician’s Request for Meal Modification Form. Return to the school nurse to schedule a meeting. Ask your child’s health care provider to complete a Medication Authorization Form indicating the type of emergency medication and instructions for its use. Some children may be able to safely self-carry their emergency medication. The school nurse will review this procedure with you and your child. Bring the completed Medication Authorization Form and the emergency medication to the school nurse. She will provide child-specific instruction to school staff as appropriate. These forms are available from the school nurse or on the District website at www.collierschools.com/parents/forms.asp. You can help us to keep your child safe by teaching your child the importance of recognizing potentially suspect foods and questioning the ingredients. 
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    • What is Kids on the GO?

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      Kids on the GO is a physical activity program that was developed to encourage students to exercise and make a healthy lifestyle a way of life. This voluntary program is offered to students in a number of our elementary schools.  Sponsored by the Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition of Collier County, the Kids on the GO program provides incentives and recognition to students in grades 3-5 who run a total of 26.2 miles (a full marathon) over a period of six to twelve weeks. The children run before or after school and parents are asked to encourage additional physical activity outside of the school day. Students log their miles, set goals, build endurance, and enjoy the satisfaction of achieving their goals. Teachers and administrators report that students in the program are more attentive in class, have fewer disciplinary referrals, and display increased self-confidence. Parents are invited to educational sessions that help them learn more about healthy food choices and meal preparation as well as the importance of exercise for adults and children.

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