Play with Your Food!

This week, USA Pears attended the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Annual Nutrition Conference in Kansas City. Many of the sessions were geared toward helping school lunch professionals increase fruit and vegetable consumption, while limiting sodium, fat, and excess calories. Although this seems simple, sometimes children are picky and sometimes they are simply more familiar with the taste of processed foods. What nutrition experts have discovered is that if children play with their food, that is to say that if they help in the preparation and explore the different colors, textures, and flavors of different fruits and veggies, they’re more likely to eat them now and throughout their lives. Here’s a simple suggestion: slice fruit and veggies into smaller pieces and let kids add fun toppings. At SNA we showcased a pear “salad” bar – sliced pears with a variety of Continue reading

Pears in Schools

Recently, I attended the School Nutrition Association (SNA) conference in Denver, Colorado. SNA focuses on nourishing students to achieve overall wellness and lifelong success. Just like all healthcare practitioners, SNA professionals are concerned with the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemic. School lunch has been a controversial topic for some time, stemming from the difficulty of meeting nutritional standards via child-friendly meals under a host of restrictive parameters, including limited kitchen space, staff, skills, time and budget. I spoke with many nutrition and school professionals and the one thing that we all agree on and are striving to accomplish is increasing kids’ fruit and vegetable consumption. And the United States Department of Agriculture agrees; the federal register requires schools to increase the offerings of fruits and vegetables and to meet nutritional needs of school children within their calorie requirements.* The Continue reading

Fruit du Jour: Fresh Pears!

I recently attended the School Nutrition Association annual conference; the conference featured innovative approaches to healthy school meals, as well as an immense exhibit hall of food and preparation products. I spent my time in the exhibit hall, encouraging nutrition professionals to use more fresh produce with the USA Pears salad bar, a unique and delicious way to offer fresh cut pears; however, as a dietitian, the sheer number of processed foods showcased at the expo was disheartening. Having worked in a large school district, I understand how difficult it can be to prepare and offer fresh meals that meet nutrition guidelines, children’s often picky taste buds, and staff time and labor constraints. Dietitians know that children will select foods higher in saturated fat and calories if they are offered,¹ but that children exposed to and educated about fruits and vegetables Continue reading