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Lunch campaigns aim to improve students' eating habits

We're midway through National School Lunch week, which runs through Friday, so there's still time for parents, grandparents and guardians to get in that lunch date with your child. Not a bad way to check out what's on the menu and join the conversation about the importance of healthy eating when it comes to learning.

"School Lunch – Let's Grow Healthy" is the theme of this year's celebration, which coincides with the first-ever National Farm to School Month. That's pretty good timing for Florida kids, since it happens to be planting season here for cool-weather gardens. Schools throughout the county are back to sowing seeds and planting seedlings: Think beets, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, peas, beans.

What better way to nudge children into a healthy food habit – or at least get them to try a taste of something green – than to grow it themselves?

While lunch dates and gardens are focus on healthy eating, a new outreach program at Gulfside Elementary School in Holiday is working on something else: making sure kids have something to eat over the weekends.

Members of the Generations Christian Church in Trinity have partnered with Gulfside for the Pack a Sack 4 Kids program. Each Friday, children in need will be sent home with a bag of snacks that last week included crackers, fruit granola bars, applesauce, peanut butter crackers, trail mix, pudding and fruit cups. The goal is to help nourish students, even when they're not in school.

>>fast facts

Focusing on food

• Pack a Sack 4 Kids is a community outreach program of United Methodist Cooperative Ministries/Suncoast, Inc., local school boards in Pinellas, Manatee, and Pasco counties, and area churches and collaborative partners. The program is designed to help address the problem of chronic hunger among elementary-age children in public schools. For information, go to

• For information and activities about National School Lunch Week, go

• Thinking about planting your own school or backyard garden? Get information on what to plant now, how to prepare your soil, pest management and more at the University of Florida IFAS Extension website,

Lunch campaigns aim to improve students' eating habits 10/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 4:41pm]
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