By Karla Sullivan
As parents help their children get ready for school, it is great time to introduce better meals and snacks that will promote nutrition while reducing risk of obesity.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests starting the school year with a smart breakfast.
Breakfast is still considered the most important meal of the day. Whole grain in all meals is something that you should start adding to your children’s diet:
· Whole grain toast, bagel or English muffin
· Yogurt with fruit
· Cold cereal – Shredded Wheat, Fiber One
· Instant oatmeal topped with fruit
· Citrus smoothies
If your school has a lunch program, the meal patterns have increased the availability of fruits and vegetables as well as age appropriate calorie limits.
The National School Lunch Program is a federally-assisted program that operates in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions. Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal from the program.
Reduced meals are based on family income. Afterschool snacks are also available.
If you prepare school lunches for your children, healthy sandwiches can be made ahead of time and frozen, if need be:
· Simple sandwiches that include ham, cheese or turkey
· Chicken or tuna salad
· Mozzarella and tomato
· Yogurt, carrots, grapes or berries
Making sure your children also have the best coverage in health insurance is an essential tool and through the Affordable Care Act, a network of marketplaces can help you make the best decision.
Additionally, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers more opportunity for affordability. For specialty care, hearing exams for children are covered by 100 percent of CHIP plans, according to Insurance News.
However, CHIP funding may not be extended and parents’ out-of-pocket costs could increase dramatically.
Check with your state to see what specific children’s programs are offered depending on your needs and financial limits.