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Gayla Moghannam's picture

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Bargains are available in all aspects of our lives, even when it comes to the health of our children.  I have figured out a way to add nutritious foods, nutrition education and additional physical activity into my children’s elementary school at no cost.

At Walt Disney Elementary School in San Ramon, California, we joined the Healthy Schools Program with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  They offer a program that easily generates an action plan based on your school’s wellness needs. Each action plan comes with resources to resolve your needs at no cost. They even offer professional wellness counselors.  When you call, you get to speak with an actual person! This was how I got started. It was so easy that even the Principal and Director of Child Nutrition contributed to our plan.

Getting more nutritious food for our children doesn’t have to cost money.  Start small.  Work with your room parents to encourage them to bring healthier snacks into the classroom for celebrations. Talk with your staff about alternatives to cupcakes for birthday parties. Free ideas and fliers for healthy classroom celebrations are available through the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.  Kids would rather have a dance party or work on crafts at a party.  Instead of cupcakes, children have the option to enjoy 15 minutes of free recess, crafts or special time with the teacher to celebrate their birthday.

$30 water coolers cut 25 grams of sugar from our children’s diets.  Our school invested in two water coolers for $60 to provide fresh water every day for our children.  The kids never used the water faucets but love getting a cup of water from the coolers.  Our district provides free cups.  After a quick promotion, most children leave juice boxes at home and drink fresh cool water at lunch.  It saves our families a lot of money over the school year and cuts out 25 grams of sugar from their children’s diet every school day.

Nutrition Education is also available for FREE.  The USDA, many local hospitals and The Alliance's Healthy Schools Program offer a wealth of information. In many cases, schools do not even need to make copies of the materials.

Lastly, increasing physical activity is also available at no cost.  We just started a Fitness Trail/Brain Break program.  I downloaded the details for free.  Now our youth can enjoy extra movement in class, on the way to the library or computer room and indoors on a rainy day.

Do not let costs get in the way of healthy changes.   Even the smallest changes can make a great impact in our children’s lives.

This post is part of the MomsRising "Making the School Day Healthier" Blog Carnival headlined by Top Chef Lorena Garcia."

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