I cannot stop thinking about the horrific tragedy in Newtown Connecticut. As a parent, my heart is broken for the families in Newtown whose children, brothers, sisters and mothers were killed. There really are no words to express the emotions we all have.
At the same time, I worry about the many children who have seen or continue to see the images of this massacre. Unfortunately, there continue to be mass shootings and tragedies that monopolize the news on air, online and in print making it hard to shield young children. The news never stops and these events are all too common.
But a parent's job continues to be to try and make sure that children feel safe and secure. Although it seems to be harder and harder to do these days, parents must continue to protect their children both physically and emotionally. This means telling your child to wear their seat belt, lock the door when you leave the house, wear your bike helmet, and to never play with matches...the list goes on and on.
It also means having age appropriate discussions with your children about stranger danger, weather related disasters and now school lockdowns. The discussions surrounding this latest national tragedy should be tailored to the age of the child, but regardless of their age, I think the discussion should always end with, mommies and daddies are here to love and protect you and that will never change.
There is no way to process this tragedy nor is there a guide as to how to go forward. Despite all of the news stories there are no answers, but only questions as to why?
Hug your children, maybe grab an extra kiss and be thankful for your family. Let us also say a prayer for the community of Newtown, both those who were lost and for the living, for their grief is unimaginable.
With everyone back in school after a nice summer break, what better time to discuss school lunches, especially as they relate to healthy choices. The USDA (Department of Agriculture) has just issued new national guidelines for school lunches which will begin this school year. The new guidelines include calorie and sodium limits for foods served on the school lunch line and are age dependent.
The new guidelines also include the recommendation for more whole grains, and dark green, orange or red vegetables (color on the plate). Students buying school lunches must choose at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. Portion sizes may also be smaller as well.
These changes are all geared at helping students understand the importance of healthy eating and making good nutritious food choices. It is hoped that as students get used to seeing and eating healthier school lunches, the choices that they make at home may become better as well.
Students will also be able to choose from fat-free, low-fat and lactose-free milk and will be required to have 1 serving a day. Flavored milk will be required to be fat free.
Lastly, half of the grains served in a school lunch must be whole grain and by 2014 school year all grains must be whole grain rich.
So, if you are planning on packing your child's lunch this year, remember these guidelines as well. I think that a combo of packing healthy lunches on some days, while letting your child buy a school lunch on other days seems to be the perfect balance. Let your children help pick out healthy food choices to put in their packed lunch and they might even pick up a few ideas from the new school lunches this year too.
You can find the new guidelines at http://1.usa.gov/Qzd5Z7