What Every Parent Should Know about School Meals in Collier County Public Schools
Students need to eat a good breakfast every day to do their best in school. Research indicates that students who eat breakfast are more attentive, test better and have better behavior. No time at home? Students can eat breakfast at school at no charge. We follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in our meal planning and food purchases. Our school breakfasts are a great source of nutrients as we provide whole grain bread products, 100% juices and low fat milk at each school site every day. This year we are providing breakfast to all Collier County students at no charge.
Meals filled with student-friendly and nutritious foods are planned by our Registered Dietitian and served at all school sites each school day. We feature healthy versions of student favorite entrees. We purchase foods that meet strict nutrition guidelines of keeping fat, sugar and sodium low, fiber and nutrients high, and energy (calories) balanced using the Recommended Dietary Allowances based on age groups. These foods are taste tested and student approved. Even our pizza contains whole grain crust and low fat mozzarella cheese. Students are encouraged to select and eat at least two fruits and/or vegetables every day with their lunch.
School specific elementary, middle and high school interactive menus are available at MealViewer each month in English, Spanish and Creole. Nutrient content and allergen information is available on each menu along with featured wellness and health resources.
SMART SNACKS IN SCHOOLS
Smart Snacks is Schools are the guidelines for the USDA’s “All Foods Sold in Schools” Standards that were required nation wide as of July 1, 2014. The first ingredient of each snack must be a real, healthy food such as whole grain, fruit, vegetable, protein or dairy plus specific nutrient requirements limit calories, fat, sodium and sugar. The Collier County Department of Nutrition Services is committed to only serving those foods, snacks and beverages that meet these strict nutrition standards. For those students who are still hungry or desire an alternative food item, a selection of Smart Snacks in Schools is available for sale in high schools. A smaller selection of Smart Snacks is available in middle and elementary schools. Examples are water, baked chips, fresh fruit, baby carrots and whole grain bread sticks. Fresh baked, whole grain, reduced fat and reduced sugar cookies (that actually taste good) are one of the choices that may be available as an “a la carte/Smart Snack” choice.
FARM TO SCHOOL
The Department of Nutrition Services coordinates with our local produce distributor and local farmers to provide farm fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables to our students each school day. Being in Collier County, The Winter Produce Basket of the USA, we have access to a long growing season and an abundant variety of delicious Florida fruits and vegetables. We also provide our elementary schools with a unique and innovative program that we call F2SS (Farm to School Snack) where we provide a fresh fruit or vegetable snack to our students at least once each week at no charge. The advantages of this endeavor are many! Children actually try the fresh produce with their teacher in the classroom, they learn that fresh fruits and vegetables are a preferred snack, and it provides the classroom teacher with an additional learning tool that can be used throughout the curriculum.
- -Look at the school menu with your children.
- -Encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables.
- -Remind your children to eat mindfully!
- -Chew the food, enjoy the flavors, slow down and recognize physical hunger.
- -Sometimes, when children think they are hungry, they are really thirsty! Avoid sugary, high caffeine and high fat drinks. Water, portioned control juice with pulp and low-fat and fat free milk are the best beverage choices.
- -Be a good role model when selecting foods and beverages and read the labels!
- -Play active games with your children at home. Children and teenagers need at least 60 minutes of physical activity EVERY DAY. They will stay healthy and it will help you stay healthy too!
- -Encourage more physical activity and play. Health experts recommend limiting screen time to 2 hours per day for children. Screen time includes TV, computer and video games.