Nutrition is key in every stage of life.
Children and teenagers need proper nutrients for their growing bodies, healthy eating ensures their proper growth and development, and it also prevents various health conditions. (CDC, 2019). Your body and brain need fuel to perform, learn, grow, and ward of illness and disease. Now is the time to develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
The "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" highlighted that a healthy eating pattern should include the following:
A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups
Fat-free or low-fat dairy
A variety of protein foods
Choosing the right food can be challenging for both children and parents. It's important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients.
What is MyPlate?
Have you heard of MyPlate? MyPlate is an easy visual guide to help you and your family make healthy choices every day.
MyPlate illustrates 5 food groups that are building blocks for a healthy meal. Before you eat, think about what goes on YOUR plate.
Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
Make half of your grains whole grains
Vary your protein source
Move to low-fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt (or lactose-free dairy or fortified soy versions)
What's in the Fruit Group?
Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
Why should you eat fruits?
Fruits are excellent sources of many essential nutrients that are normally under-consumed such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None of the fruits have cholesterol. Many fruits are high in vitamin, which helps heal cuts, and keeps teeth and gum healthy.
How much do you need?
The amount varies depending on your gender, age, and physical activity. Generally speaking, the amount each person needs between 1-2 cups per day. Please visit MyPlate.gov to learn more.
What counts as 1 cup?
1 small apple, 1/2 large apple, 1 large banana, 1 cup diced melon balls, ~32 seedless grapes, 1 medium grapefruit, 1 large orange, 1 large peach, 1 medium pear, 1 small wedge, or a slice of watermelon (1" thick)
Did you know?
We offer age-appropriate servings of fruits every day at Ross Local School's cafeterias.
What's in the Vegetable Group?
Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group.
Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.
Based on their nutrient content, vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups:
- Dark green (Broccoli, kale, romaine lettuce, spinach)
- Red-orange (Tomatoes, red/orange bell peppers, radish, squash, carrots, pumpkin)
- Beans, peas, and lentils (Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, split peas)
- Starchy (Corn, potatoes, green peas)
- Others (Avacado, cauliflower, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini, green beans)
Why Should You Eat Vegetables?
Vegetables provide lots of health benefits- a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of getting chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancers!
Vegetables are important sources of vitamins and minerals, which are essential in keeping our bodies function properly.
They're an excellent source of dietary fiber, which ensures healthy gut health.
How Many Vegetables are Needed?
The amount of vegetables varies depending on your gender, age, and level of physical activity. The recommended daily needs for vegetables vary between 1-3 cups. Visit MyPlate.gov to learn more about your needs.
What Counts as 1 cup of Vegetables?
1 cup chopped broccoli florets, 1 cup cooked greens (Collards, kale, turnip greens), 2 cups raw leafy greens (Spinach, romaine, lettuce), 1 cup strips/slices/chopped carrots, 12 baby carrots, 1 cup cooked pumpkin, 1 large pepper (3" diameter, 3 3/4" long), 1 large raw whole tomato (3"), 1 large baked sweet potato (2 1/4" or more diameter), 1 cup whole or mashed cooked beans, peas and lentils, 1 cup green peas, 2 large celery stalk
Did you know?
We offer vegetables from EVERY subgroup at least once a week at Ross Local School's cafeterias.
We serve baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, baked beans, black beans, French fries and so many more! To make it more nutritious, we serve it raw, steamed, or baked. We NEVER fry the vegetables.
What are Grains?
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal is a grain product. Some examples of grains are bread, pasta, cereals, grits, tortillas, rice, popcorn.
Grains are divided into 2 groups- whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains contain most of the original grain, whereas refined grains have been processed for longer a longer shelf life, and a smoother texture. The refining process also removed dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. While most refined grains are enriched, which means that iron and B vitamins are added back after the process, dietary fiber is still lacking.
Why is it Important to Eat Grains?
Grains, especially whole grains are good sources of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.
Eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease. Carbohydrates provide fuel for our bodies, dietary fiber promotes proper bowel function and also helps us feel full longer. B vitamins are essential in metabolism and a healthy nervous system.
How Many Grains are Needed?
The amount of grains varies depending on your gender, age, and level of physical activity. Each person needs somewhere between 3 to 8 ounce-equivalents per day-- at least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains!
Visit MyPlate.gov to learn more about grains.
What Counts as 1 ounce-equivalent of Grains?
1" mini bagel, 1 small (2" diameter) biscuits, 1 regular slice of bread, 1 small piece of cornbread, 5 whole wheat crackers, 1/2 muffin, 1 small (2 1/2") muffin, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 packet instant oatmeal, 1 pancake (4 1/2" diameter), 3 cups popcorn, 1 cup ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, 1/2 cup cooked rice (1 oz dry), 1/2 cup cooked pasta, 1 small flour tortilla (6" diameter)
Did you know?
We provide whole grains with EVERY MEAL at Ross Local School's cafeterias.
Pizza, pasta, tortilla, popcorn chicken, and hamburger buns...You name it! All of our delicious grain menu items are made of whole grains.
What foods are in the Protein Group?
All foods are made from seafood; meat, poultry, and eggs; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Why is it Important to Eat Protein?
Protein is the building block of life. Protein is important for our immune function, to develop strong muscles, and transports vitamins and minerals throughout the body.
How Much from the Protein Group is Needed?
The amount each person needs can vary between 2 and 6 1/2 ounce-equivalents daily.
Please visit MyPlate.gov to learn more about protein.
Common Portions and oz-equivalent
1 small steak (3 1/2- 4 oz.) = 3 1/2 - 4 oz-equivalent, 1 small lean hamburger = 2-3 oz-equivalent, 1 small chicken breast half= 3 oz-equivalent, 1 can of tuna, drained = 3-4 oz-equivalent, 3 egg whites= 2 oz-equivalent, 3 egg yolks = 1 oz-equivalent, 1 oz of nuts or seeds = 2 oz-equivalent, 1 cup lentip soup =2 oz-equivalent, 1 soy or bean burger patty = 2 oz-equivalent
Did you know?
We provide high-quality meals with sufficient protein that's age-appropriate.
The serving of the protein we offer at each school is based on USDA's nutritional guidelines. We ensure that our students are getting enough protein for their growth.
What Foods are in the Dairy Group?
The dairy group contains milk, yogurt, cheese, lactose-free milk, and fortified soy milk and yogurt. Foods with little calcium but a high fat such as cream cheese, cream, and butter are not included.
Why is it Important to Consume Dairy?
Dairy products provide many health benefits- especially building and maintaining strong bones. It's important for school-aged children to meet their growth needs.
Dairy products provide many nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
How Much from the Dairy Group is Needed?
The amount each person needs can vary between 2 1/2 cups for children under 10 and 3 cups for older children through adults daily.
What counts as 1 cup of Dairy?
1 cup milk, half-pint container milk, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces hard cheese (Cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan), 1/3 cup shredded cheese, 1 ounce processed cheese (American), 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 2 cups cottage cheese, 1 cup frozen yogurt, 1 cup pudding made with milk
Did you know?
We offer at least two low-fat dairy options with EVERY MEAL!
Did you know that reduced-fat milk has the same amount of calcium and vitamin D compared to whole milk, but with lower calories?
The purpose is to provide reduced-fat milk options is to ensure our students are meeting their recommended daily dairy goal without adding extra calories.
- Are you feeling more confident about using "MyPlate"? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
- Consistency is key when it comes to healthy eating, check out this "Start Simple with MyPlate App" to start tracking your foods!
Childhood obesity is a serious health problem in the United States. Currently, there are approximately 13.7 million children and adolescents in our country that are obese. (CDC) In the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. (Global Pediatric Health, 2019)
Our district is taking action by participating in the National School Lunch program which follows strict national guidelines that provide nutritious meals to students.
Meals offered in the cafeteria contain one-third of the recommended daily allowance of nutrients for school-aged children. Our district also abides by the USDA dietary guidelines for MyPlate. Our cafeterias offer a convenient method of providing a nutritionally balanced lunch at the lowest price possible.
The cafeterias also enhance children's learning abilities by contributing not only to their nutritional status but also to their physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that children whose nutritional needs are met have less attendance and disciplinary problems. Besides, these students are more focused and achieve better grades than those whose nutritional needs are not met.
What Can you Do?
As a parent, it's important to act as a role model for your children by encouraging them to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Encourage your child to get at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise each day
- Connect with your children during family mealtimes, act as a healthy role model
- Eat as many meals as you can together as a family