Eliminating unhealthy food options and conflicting messages within schools can help keep kids healthy, and the Smart Snack Policy set to go into effect next school year will require schools to start cutting down on less-than-ideal options offered during school hours, attendees at the Summit for Healthy Children learned Friday.

More than 250 people attended the event put on by Missoula County Public Schools and Let’s Move! Missoula at the University of Montana. Friday’s event followed two previous summits focused on nutrition and wellness.

Many people don’t realize the impact foods that compete with school-provided nutritional options can have on students’ health, said Heather Davis Schmidt, an executive regional director for MCPS who co-chairs the Graduation Matters Missoula wellness subcommittee.

“I’m talking about all those other ways food’s involved in our schools and about how we create a healthy food environment in our schools,” Davis Schmidt said.

Already, wellness groups at MCPS have worked to create draft policies, which address foods at school stores, vending machines, fundraising during the school day, rewards and snacks provided by staff, and classroom celebrations. The guidelines don’t address brown-bag lunches, snacks from home, teacher workrooms, or concessions and other fundraising done outside the school day.

One proposal, for example, is that classroom celebrations would be limited to one per month per classroom. Only one food or beverage not meeting nutrition standards would be allowed.

Foods and drinks wouldn’t be used for rewards or incentives in the classroom, and fundraising groups at schools would be required to sell only foods and drinks that comply with nutritional standards. Items in school stores, vending machines, coffee carts, snack bars and concession stands also would be required to meet nutritional standards and would need approval from building principals.

Feedback from breakout sessions during the summit will be used to modify the policies and develop action plans, Davis Schmidt said.

***

Keeping kids healthy impacts their learning and their life’s health, said Katie Bark, director of the Montana Team Nutrition Program who spoke during the event.

When it comes to having the conversation about keeping kids healthy, “we don’t want to wait until it’s too late,” she said.

Concerns that students aren’t healthy enough are valid, Bark said.

A study of third-grade MCPS students showed that 27 percent of them are overweight or obese, she said. “It’s a real issue.”

To help kids make healthy decisions, offer them tasty, visually appealing options, Bark suggested.

Make options easy to access and educate kids about why one thing is healthier than another. Also, take away unhealthy options, she said.

And be a role model by making healthy decisions, such as drinking plenty of water, Bark added.

To help reduce confusion, remove conflicting messages, such as rewarding children with treats in class, she said.

People may ask what the big deal is about rewarding a student for good work with a small piece of candy.

“Well, the big deal is it’s cumulative,” Bark said, adding that one piece of mint candy a day adds up to more than 3 pounds of sugar in a year.

Schools are just one of the stakeholders in healthy kids, she said, applauding other community leaders for attending the summit and working together.

Davis Schmidt also said that the issue of kids’ health is a community one that needs and deserves a community effort.

“And this is one piece of that,” she said about the summit.

Healthy kids are in school learning instead of home sick and are more likely to graduate. Long term, healthy kids will become healthy adults who won’t put a high strain on the health care system and who will constructively contribute to society, she said. “Ultimately, we will be a better society for it.”

Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.

(9) comments

student4
student4

visually appealing and tasty is taco pizza made at home ,orange rolls made at home brownies lasagna, spaghetti ,sausage ,meatloaf, now cold meatloaf sandwiches and pizza leftover for lunch and leftovers supper, but a snack is chips, pop, chocolate and cookies. moderation from a skinny kid with bird legs built like stick all through school that could dance the night away in the living room whenever

student4
student4

farmers eat zucchini fried in lard butter covered in egg and whole milk and seasoned bread crumbs, Michelle wants to eat the chips preserved for winter soups and then dance to disco,is a waste of supplies.

student4
student4

oops

student4
student4

Anyone watch SNL with Michelle ? anyone remeber ever offering dried began chips to friends other than potato chip everything else was for casserole preparation or soup? the flavorings that went into a cooked hot meal a seasoning? I am going to eat fudge brownies made with butter and wholwe milk macaroni and cheese with five cheeses and two meats then

justthinking
justthinking

What is going on with our society today? I agree that healthy eating is the right way to go toward overall health and disease prevention, but can we really point toward sweets as an occasional reward or one sweetened coffee drink every three days or so as the source of the degredation of our personal health? Is my memory way off base, or didn't our mothers used to greet us at the door after school with chocolate chip cookies and milk? I believe the difference between the times might be that after we ate those cookies, we went right back out the door to meet up with our friends to play. And, our play was welcome by the other adults that were also at home or otherwise present in our community. We weren't asked to leave an emply lot while innocently riding our bikes up and down the dirt mounds. We didn't have the cops called on us for playing I Spy in the neighborhoods. It seems that adult tolerances of todays youth are part of what drives our youth indoors, alone in their own homes where they can safely play with their friends on on-line video games, conversing with them the whole time via "live" gaming options. I am no rocket scientist and I do not have a degree in nutrition, but I do believe that the answer, in part, is to end every day with a balanced equation of caloric intake vs output. Yes, the source of your calories does matter. There needs to be a balance, based on recommended percentiles, between carbohydrates, proteins and fats in order for the human body to function in the most healthful way. But placing rule after rule on what items are allowed in classrooms, school hallways, school clubs, etc is not the answer. My question to those leading this summit is whether they will somehow fund the deficit that will result if coffee carts, DECA stores and bake sales are forced out of our schools. And, will they defend the poor teacher who, while trying to do their real job, might just slip up and allow something in their classroom that breaks the "rule" and some parent with an agenda comes unglued on them and bursts into their classroom in a rant, ready to stamp them with the scarlet letter, stealing thier precious teaching time? Once again, special interest groups fail to see the bigger picture and are so focused on their own agenda that they want to impose ridiculous rules and restrictions on the greater community to the point that great good is lost...leaving those served by the greater community the loser (our kids who these special interest groups are reportedly trying to protect, or whose lives they are reportedly trying to improve!)!! BTW...when I was a kid, my house was not stocked with sweets. I saved my allowances, rode my bike to the store, bought a pound bag of M&M's, hid them in my doll house and ate some of them every day until the bag was empty and my allowance had again been saved so I could start the cycle over again. Today, as a person in my 50's, I weigh exactly 7 pounds more than I did when I graduated High School!

student4
student4

The old saying is you can give my appealing tasty looking food to Mikey,he'll eat anything. Today watch a fifty year old women on SNL putting on a show of alleged entertainment to encouraging appropriate nutrition and exercise. Over thirty should never place themselves where the youth of today says" well that was interesting"

Buzz Feedback
Buzz Feedback

“Well, the big deal is it’s cumulative,” Bark said, adding that one piece of mint candy a day adds up to more than 3 pounds of sugar in a year.

I've got two kids in elementary school, grades 3 and 4. Have yet to come across a teacher that hands out candy every single day.

Excellent straw man, however.

Run - A- Mook
Run - A- Mook

Apple serving size 1.
Calories 116
Calories from fat 0

Star Baites Peppermint candy
Serving size 3 pieces
Calories 60
Calories from fat 0

M
M

"A study of third-grade MCPS students showed that 27 percent of them are overweight or obese, she said. “It’s a real issue.”"

Based on BMI, which is a 19th century measurement designed by a mathematician who said that it shoudn't be used to measure health? Or based on this woman's vendetta?

"Healthy kids are in school learning instead of home sick and are more likely to graduate. Long term, healthy kids will become healthy adults who won’t put a high strain on the health care system and who will constructively contribute to society, she said."

Based on the flawed studies talking about the "strain on the health care system" that were discredited for being self-reported, tiny sample sizes that could not be correlated? Or based on the flawed studies that failed to point out that the people who were a "strain on the health care system" were most often overweight because of pre-existing conditions that led to weight gain?

This is a bunch of malarkey, and I can't even believe 250 people showed up to listen to this nonsense. I hope this gets thrown right where it belongs--into the trash.

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