During the summer months, kids put the thought of school on the back burner, but the same doesn’t have to go for eating smart and staying active! The USDA’s Summer Food, Summer Moves program has created a collection of free, downloadable resources to get kids and families excited about healthy eating and physical activity, during the summer break. The program provides fun, interactive activities for kids and shows parents that promoting a healthy lifestyle can be easy and beneficial for the whole family. It features colorful brochures, flyers, in addition to recipes, and parent guides. Summer meal site operators can provide these resources to families participating in their Summer Food Service programs, as well as selecting resources which can be used to facilitate fun activities and initiatives at their meal sites.
In the resource kit, Eat Smart to Play Hard, parents are encouraged to make four healthy moves to keep kids happy, healthy, and well fueled throughout the hot summer months.
- Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Make sure cold water is easily accessible and limit soda, sports drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Try making water more fun by adding sliced fruit or cucumbers.
- Choose more fruits and vegetables. Make it a goal to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. Try fruit and vegetable options at summer meal sites, or visit a farm or farmers market to try the local produce. Get kids excited by holding weekly “Try Day” Fridays, when they can choose a new fruit or vegetable to eat each week.
- Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Have relay races, take a bike ride, or make up games or exciting social events to bring kids together. Dances or jump rope contests are popular options.
- Limit screen time to no more than 1-2 hours per day. Keep phone chargers in the living room instead of the bedroom. Take a nature walk in a forest or park and ask kids to leave phones in the car so they’ll be both physically and mentally present.
Visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/summer-food-summer-moves to view all of the Summer Food, Summer Moves resources.
Additional Summer Health Resources:
- Find free, balanced, nutritious meals using the Summer Meal Site Finder at kidsfoodfinder.org
- Summer Health Maintenance and Food Safety articles can be found here: http://articles.extension.org/pages/73788
Heather Hodson, Cornell University
Katherine Baildon, Cornell University