Getting students to eat whole grains doesn’t always have to be about hiding the whole-grain flavor. Creating healthy eating habits that last into adulthood means educating students early on.
“I believe children will eat almost anything if they are exposed to it in positive ways and if they get to learn about where it comes from and how it’s made,” said Dayle Hayes, RD, president of Nutrition for the Future, Inc., Billings, MT.
Such education helps ease students into trying new foods. For grain-based foods, Ms. Hayes suggested that students prepare and bake the products themselves if possible. By taking this more comprehensive and educational approach, she observed that operators won’t simply expect kids to eat healthy yet often unfamiliar foods.
Schools and the baking industry can participate in several incentive programs and campaigns to help students get excited about whole grains. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign promotes exercise and healthy nutrition at home and school to combat childhood obesity. Schools can participate in the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Team Nutrition, which offers training and resources to school food service professionals and also provides a nutrition curriculum that schools can use to teach students about healthy eating. The baking industry can also take advantage of resources offered by the Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) at www.gowiththegrain.org
H&S Bakery, Baltimore, MD, worked with the Maryland school districts on GFF’s Bread Art Project and saw significant progress in students’ education on whole grains. “We need to tap into using these provided resources with our customers and consumers in an effort to enhance better decision making purchases on whole grain and enriched bakery goods,” said J.R. Paterakis, the bakery’s vice-president of marketing and sales.