The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is launching a new program that will encourage students of all ages to develop healthy eating habits.
F.A.B. 4 (Feed a Brain with the 4 Food Groups) will provide children with a passport that will outline the basics of nutrition and the four food groups through colouring and counting exercises.
The program was officially launched on Aug. 30 at Edward Murphy Elementary School, where passports were distributed to more than 1,600 kindergarten students on the first day of school.
Each week in September, students will learn about one of the four food groups and have their passports stamped by their teacher when they complete an exercise. Teachers brought food from home to expose students to new options and show them examples of healthy meals.
The program is part of the board’s campaign to get students to “eat, grow and learn.”
Other tactics are being used to reach high school students. According to Sylvie Beaudry, coordinator of the board’s Nutrition and Food Service department, high school cafeterias regularly change menus to adapt to students’ preferences, adding healthier options like salads and vegetarian food.
In an effort to discourage students from eating fast food, cafeterias have begun selling grilled sandwiches, fish tacos, salads and pizza in easy-to-carry wraps so that they can still eat healthy whether they’re on or off-campus.
All EMSB schools provide breakfast, snacks and a subsidized lunch program to underprivileged students, and offer milk to all students four days per week.
Beaudry encourages parents to talk to their children about food groups and ingredients, and invites kids to participate in meal prep and making lunch so they learn about food in a hands-on way.
For parents struggling to find healthy lunch ideas, Beaudry suggests packing fresh fruits and vegetables, along with foods like lentils, grilled chicken or fish, pasta or soup in a thermos, or leftovers from family dinners.