I’m a parent. I know how hard it can be to get kids to eat healthy. I know how upsetting it can be to watch helplessly as your child is loaded up with junk food at school. I know how frustrating it feels when no one seems interested in doing anything about it. I also know that your situation isn’t hopeless. There’s actually a lot that we as parents can do to make the school environment healthier for our children. And there are lots of resources out there to assist you. Here’s a list of online articles and guides to get you started:
Becoming a school wellness advocate
Required reading for would-be school food advocates. (Yes, I’m talkin’ to YOU!).
Get the Facts Toolkit (Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution)
A step-by-step guide to help you get started advocating for better school grub.
Everybody’s guide to fixing school food (PEACHSF)
Words of wisdom from an experienced parent who has been fighting for healthier school food for more than a decade.
Priceless info from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.
Parents for Healthy Kids Tool Kit (Action for Healthy Kids)
Info on Parent Leadership Series webinars and handy tipsheets on healthy school celebrations, healthy fundraisers, and more.
Improving school food (Slow Food USA)
A handy checklist of steps to take to change the food environment at your child’s school.
Feeding and parenting in the school setting (Ellyn Satter)
Recommendations for establishing a healthy food environment in schools from an internationally known child feeding expert.
Why school and junk food don’t mix. And what educators can do about it. (Spoonfed: Raising Kids to Think about the Food They Eat)
A helpful handout to refer to when talking to school officials about the need for reform.
Educating school staff
Guidelines for the school nutrition staff (Ellyn Satter)
8 tips for the lunch ladies and teachers helping in the cafeteria.
Flavored milk in schools
Hard facts about flavored milk (Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution)
A fact sheet that you can print out and give to parents at your child’s school.
A recipe for change: flavored milk (Jamie Oliver Food Foundation)
Includes links to resources to aid you in the fight against flavored milk.
Orthorexia vs. chocolate milk (Spoonfed: Raising kids to think about the food they eat)
A powerful argument for dropping flavored milks from school from journalist Christina Le Beau.
Flavored milk and other sugary beverages (Rudd ‘Roots Parents)
Food education in school
Nutrition education in the schools (Ellyn Satter)
Advice for helping kids learn how to eat well and develop a healthy relationship with food.
Lesson plans and activities aimed at teaching kids how to navigate today’s food environment and develop a taste for the more wholesome stuff.
Nourish middle school curriculum guide (Nourish)
Includes a viewing guide, six learning activities, action projects, a glossary, and suggested resources.
Teaching the food system (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
More materials (including slides and handouts) for teaching older kids about the food system.
LiFE: Growing Food (Columbia University Center for Food & Environment)
A teacher guide that includes lesson plans, teaching tips and student activity sheets for grades 4, 5 and 6.
Healthy living at home
Childhood obesity: Healthy living and fitness start at home (Home Fitness Equipment)
Helpful links to info on childhood nutrition, exercise and more.
Healthy school fundraisers
Why bake sales really aren’t such great moneymakers–and healthier ways to raise cash.
Eco-friendly fundraising ideas (My Healthy School)
Organize a walk-a-thon, sell Fair Trade products, and other green ideas.
Sweet deals: School fundraising can be healthy and profitable (Center for Science in the Public Interest)
A round-up of the best and worst fundraisers for kids’ health.
Alternative fundraising ideas (Alliance for a Healthier Generation)
Another great list of fundraising ideas that won’t undermine the health of students.
PeachSF hits it out of the ballpark again with this useful resource.
Healthy school snacks & parties
Fresh, creative and fun food ideas for healthy classroom parties.
Healthy school celebrations (Center for Science in the Public Interest)
How parents, teachers and school administrators can shift the focus from food to fun.
Parties can be fun and healthy! (NourishMD)
The importance of teaching kids to celebrate special days in healthy ways–plus, healthy snack suggestions.
An elementary school snack list—nut free (100 Days of Real Food)
Fresh and dried fruit, 100-percent whole grain snacks, and other smart, minimally processed ideas.
85 snack ideas for kids (and adults!) (100 Days of Real Food)
From apples slices to zucchini chips to cinnamon-glazed popcorn, everything on this list is wholesome and real.
World’s Easiest Homemade Microwave Popcorn (perfect for school parties!) (School Bites)
What kid doesn’t like popcorn? And with this recipe, you can make it fast, without any clean up or harmful chemicals.
Healthy (non-food) student rewards
How to make a case for healthy classroom rewards with your school principal or administrator.
Constructive classroom rewards: Promoting good habits while protecting children’s health (Center for Science in the Public Interest)
Print this out and hand it to your head of school–it really says it all!
Student rewards…that aren’t junk food! (100 Days of Real Food)
Extra playground time, a book swap party, and more inspired ideas to use in lieu of food rewards.
What rewarding kids with food looks like 20 years later (Raise Healthy Eaters)
Why food rewards are no-nos, in the words of registered dietitian Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, M.S., R.D.
Improving school food
A guide to improving school foods and beverages.
Rethinking school lunch guide (Center for Ecoliteracy)
Ideas and strategies for changing your school meal programs, promoting health, and increasing ecological understanding.
Packing a school lunch
Never pack the same lunch two days in a row–and other surprising tips.
From bento boxes to lunch bags, a look at the latest and greatest re-usable lunch gear.
School success stories
Learn how one P.T.A. in Virginia succeeded in making healthy changes at their school (and how you can, too!).
How one school is spreading wellness, from local food sourcing to heart-healthy Valentine’s Day parties.
More healthy inspiration from an Ohio elementary school.
School wellness policies
Local school wellness policy (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Learn the federal requirements for having and implementing a school wellness policy.
How to enforce a wellness policy (ChangeLabSolutions/NPLAN)
Language and recommendations to help schools and districtsdevelop, monitor, and update comprehensive wellness policies that set high standards for healthy learning.
Model school wellness policies (School Wellness Policies)
A set of model policies for local school districts, from the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.
Wellness Policy Tool (Action for Healthy Kids)
A tool designed to help schools create a strong and effective wellness policy and take steps to put the policy into action.
WellSAT: Wellness School Assessment Tool (Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity Research)
A helpful tool for assessing the strength and comprehensiveness of school district wellness policies.
School wellness committees
Organize a school health team (Let’s Move)
Why you should join your school’s wellness committee and other vital info for parents.
Create a Healthy Lifestyles Program at your school (Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution)
Tips for starting a task force to promote healthier food and physical activity.
Soccer snacktivism handbook (Real Mom Nutrition)
How to talk to other parents about providing fresh fruit and water instead of processed snacks and Powerade at sports practices.
On the front lines of snacktivism (Real Mom Nutrition)
Advice for talking to the director of your child’s summer camp or after-school program about ditching junky snacks.
Water in schools
Water in schools: How to make it happen at your school? (California Food Policy Advocates)
Info on how to make clean drinking water more available at your child’s school.