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Five ways to spur healthy cafeteria choices

The Smarter Lunchrooms website (www.smarterlunchrooms.org) is a treasure trove of ideas for school nutrition professionals. The strategies have been developed by experts at Cornell University’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs. Check out the site, which is highly interactive, for more suggestions such as these:

  1. Give vegetables creative names. “Rich Vegetable Medley Soup” is more appealing than “Vegetable Soup.” Use descriptive, nostalgic or regional (e.g., “Louisiana Spicy Cajun Stew”) labels.
  2. Keep online menu information current. Doing so allows students and parents to discuss nutrition choices in advance.
  3. Use table tents and posters to advertise healthy choices. You can also convey nutrition information in this way.
  4. Place healthy items, such as milk and fruit, by the cash register. Don’t tempt students with desserts while they wait to pay for their food.
  5. Prompt students to eat fruits and vegetables. Have cafeteria workers ask them if they would like a serving of fruit or veggies.

School: One germy place

In a typical American high school, students and teachers have more than 760,000 “opportunities” to be infected with the flu each day.

That’s according to a Pennsylvania State University study published in the Dec. 13, 2010, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers gave one high school’s students, teachers and faculty members (788 individuals, or 94 percent of the school’s population) wireless sensors to wear on lanyards around their necks. The sensors detected the presence of someone in close proximity (aka someone close enough to spread flu germs). Throughout one day, students and faculty members came into close proximity with one another 762,868 times.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Fight the flu

Flu season officially runs from October to May. To keep your students—and yourself—healthy, follow these tips each year:

  • Get a dose of the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines.
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizer in the classroom.
  • Stay home if you are sick. You should be fever-free for 24 hours before you return to school.
  • Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door knobs, phones and keyboards.
  • Don’t share beverages or food. Austin ISD is practicing infection control by encouraging staff members to teach students proper techniques and etiquette for washing their hands and coughing. Posters with this information are displayed prominently on campuses.

Sources: www.texasflu.org; www.austinisd.org

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