Start the new school year right with school lunches that make the grade

Registered dietitian Jessie Jollymore urges parents to take advantage of their local School Milk Program

HALIFAX, NS, Sept. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - Registered dietitian and school lunch expert, Jessie Jollymore, has teamed up with dairy farmers across the Maritimes to ensure this back-to-school season is a nutrient-packed experience for children in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The School Milk Program began in 1974 in Nova Scotia and quickly spread to schools across the Maritimes, offering a nutritious lunchtime beverage at a reduced price to students in school on a daily basis.  Today, the School Milk Program remains committed to providing milk at the lowest possible price to all school children throughout the Maritimes.

"Lunch is a vital part of a child's day and it's important that children take time at school to eat a healthy mid-day meal to refuel their energy every day," says Jollymore. "When children eat a healthy lunch, they get more of the nutrients they need to stay active, alert and ready to learn."

With the price of a 250 ml carton of milk costing as little as 35 cents in some cases, Jollymore sees buying milk for children at school as a no-brainer. In addition, almost all Maritime schools participate in the program, which is an amazing feat considering the program is most often run by volunteers made up of school and cafeteria staff, students and parents.

"It doesn't' get any easier than this," says Jollymore.  "Offering milk at a reduced price at school makes it a convenient and affordable way to add a serving of milk to a child's day.  Just call the school to ask how to buy milk for your child."

Jollymore wants to remind parents that growing children need between 2 to 4 servings of Milk and Alternatives every day. However, according to the most recent Canadian Community Health Survey published in 2006, one third of children did not consume the recommended daily servings of milk products. Drinking milk at school helps children get closer to Health Canada's recommendations.

In addition to talking to parents about the School Milk Program, Jollymore is sharing five no-fail ways to help get children more involved in and excited about eating healthy lunches.

"It's so important to get kids involved in lunch preparation," says Jollymore. "Kids are much more likely to be interested in what they are eating when they themselves have helped out in some way."

Jollymore's five strategies cover the spectrum of foods kids love to eat, but with a healthy twist.  She covers everything from picky eaters, to children who love sweets, to the ones who like to get creative in the kitchen.

One of her tips is for children who like finger foods. Jessie suggests M-Y-O-L, also known as Make Your Own Lunchables.  The store-bought, ready-to-eat packaged lunch combinations are expensive and offer very little nutrition. By providing children with a variety of healthy food options, they can create a much healthier version of the store-bought combinations. Parents can invest in a set of small reusable storing containers and have the kids choose a food from each of the four food groups to fill them. For example, they can chose whole grain crackers or mini baguettes, with hummus, mini tomatoes and snow peas and slices of Canadian Gouda cheese. Children can create their own little mini stackable bites in a cinch!

Parents can access information about the School Milk Program and more of Jollymore's tips by selecting the Maritimes' parents section at www.milkinschool.ca. Here, parents can also use a convenient school finder tool to quickly obtain contact information for schools in their area.

About Dairy Farmers of Canada

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is involved in a number of initiatives that promote good nutrition, the wholesome goodness of dairy products and healthy living. All DFC funding comes from the dairy farmers currently operating across Canada.

SOURCE: Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC)

For further information:

Beatrice Bastedo / Will Lamont
416-322-3030 ext.231 / 241
Beatrice@trilliumpr.comwill@trilliumpr.com

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Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC)

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