BeST Health Iniatives
Healthy Kids Resources
The objectives of Loudoun Living Smart include teaching the students about healthy, active lifestyles and giving them the skills to transition from physical education at school to a lifetime of wellness; and challenging them every day to make good decisions about nutrition and health enhancing behaviors. Loudoun Living Smart is just the incentive Belmont Station needs to share our success stories with Loudoun County.
Inspired by Loudoun Living Smart and in consideration of our past and continued commitment to healthy food and drink, Belmont Station will focus on three important areas of nutritioneach school year. We will continue to slowly and surely educate the children how to make their own healthy choices. Meanwhile, we are asking the teachers and the parents to provide our students with encouragement and support. It would also be wonderful if all the adults in their lives could serve as good models for a healthy lifestyle. As many of our fellow county schools and families join us in this truly important educational endeavor, we ask that you please keep in mind some critical nutrition information.
First, the contents on a package are in order of the amount of that item in the product. If high fructose corn syrup is the first, second, or third ingredient in a product, more than 50% of the product contains corn syrup. We really do not want our children ingesting that much corn syrup. It is a main contributor to the concerns of childhood diabetes, childhood cardio vascular disease, and very possibly childhood attention disorders. It does not matter how many advertisement the Corn Growers Association uses to tell us the calories in high fructose corn syrup are the same as sugar…they are not. Sugar is a sweetener; high fructose corn syrup is a refined complex carbohydrate.
Second, please read labels for other ingredients too. Be extra careful of trans fats. Fortunately, most good food manufacturing companies, and nearly all fast food restaurants have eliminated trans fats from their products. This is one less nutritional battle we will need to fight locally. That is very good news but it is still important to read labels to be sure a product is not a “throw back”. Watch for too much sodium, and by all means take note of food coloring and preservatives.
Third, bottled water…yes water. Our “Green Team” leader, Chris Zierk began this investigation a few years back. In his efforts to educate the students and the staff to reduce, reuse, recycle he discovered some very interesting, but not very appealing, facts about bottled water. You can do the online research yourself, but suffice it to say, it is much better to drink tap. The water in plastic bottles is transported and stored at many different temperatures. As the temperature changes so does the make-up of the plastic bottle. The chemicals that formulate the plastic leech into the water and then into us! These chemicals are particularly bad for babies and children. On top of that, plastic bottles are an economic and environmental nightmare. It is a waste of money to buy bottled water, it is often not better than tap, and a waste of our resources to recycle them.
“What exactly does this mean for our school?” It means that we are going to continue the process of being a healthy school by eliminating high fructose corn syrup and trans fat products from our school. Our healthy snack guidelines mean that we will not be permitting cookies, candy, cupcakes, fruit rollups, packaged fruit snacks with corn syrup, and of course any soda at Belmont Station for classroom parties. Why include fruit roll ups and packaged fruit snacks in this program? All you have to do is read the packaging to see how much of a “fruit treat made with real fruit and no preservatives” is actually made of corn syrup. For your research purposes, you should know there are over 20,000,000 internet sites devoted to childhood nutrition and obesity, and many of them reference corn syrup and trans fats. Let’s face it, if Coke and Pepsi are “trying” beverages with sugar and McDonald’s and Nabisco are advertising “no trans fats” in their products, educators and parents need to know more!
It is going to be a very exciting year for those who have long believed that diet, nutrition, and physical fitness are essential elements of health education. The Loudoun Living Smart program will include many elements of a widespread community program: after school activities offered through Parks and Recreation, collaboration with community organizations such as the World Golf Foundation, and support from regional professional athletic teams such as the Redskins, Nationals, and the Capitals. You will surely hear much more about all of this as the school system leads the way in what is expected to be a very impressive endeavor. For our part, we are making a true commitment to be among the leading schools that really educate and model healthy living.
Please help us guide the children in accepting these good and healthy options. For class parties children may continue to have chips, pretzels, popcorn, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, dips, cheese, crackers, and many other corn syrup free products. Most of these products no longer contain trans fats but be sure to check labels. We will once again follow a birthday procedure that allows children to donate a book, game, or recess equipment to the class in celebration of his or her special day.
As always, no nuts or nut products may be served in group situations and children with severe food allergies of any kind should have personal snacks for special occasions in the school freezer.
We also ask that you NOT bring any fast food products or soda into the school or cafeteria at any time. With a commercial center next door, we may need to form a “healthy food partnership” with them in the future, but for now, while we work out the details, please make a school lunch with your children…a true school lunch.
Please be sure to follow the implementation of the Loudoun Living Smart initiatives. With grant funds of $500,000 a year being applied to health and fitness, there should be some truly amazing opportunities and programs for Loudoun families.
Thank you in advance for helping us make Belmont Station the BeST school and our students the STARS of a future healthier America.