Proper care for pets

I hear a moan, and I know that one of my little ones isn’t feeling well. We’ve been up all night, and they’ve been moaning in their sleep. It physically hurts my heart to see them going through pain, and not be able to take it away. I’d do any and everything in my power to keep them from harms way. Did I birth them….no. That doesn’t change the way that I feel about them though, and the fact that they’re a part of our family.

I…

…am a pet-owner.

If you have pets, that you can fully relate to this. Our dogs and cats are just like babies, in that they lack the ability to speak and tell us when they are hurting, or what exactly they need. We must do our best to anticipate their needs, and protect them from unnecessary dangers. We need to offer them proper care for pets. That’s why my family relies on K9 Advantix® II. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites make dogs miserable. They’re soo small, and often inconspicuous, it’s sometimes hard to avoid them.

Tobey

K9 Advantix® II helps me relax during our outings to the dog park, and any other place where we may interact with other pets and/or pest. To me, it’s not all about trying to find products to fix the problem AFTER it has happened. I’d rather avoid them by all means possible whenever I can. That’s why I like K9 Advantix® II so much. It doesn’t just treat parasites on your pet; it actually helps repel them in advance (see for yourself in the video below).

Parasites are dangerous and can affect the way you and your dog interact. It can also be very difficult to treat them, once they settled with your four-legged friend. As a mommy, I feel a divine need to protect and nurture my loved ones and my four-legged “baby” isn’t any different.

lloyd and tobey

Do you have a four-legged family member?

The bond between you and your dog is a special one, and you’ll go to great lengths to keep your furry family member safe and healthy. K9 Advantix® II is a once-a-month topical application for dogs and puppies that REPELS and kills ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes.  Visit http://petparents.com/products  to learn more.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of K9 Advantix® II. The opinions and text are all mine.

Life’s Little Messes: #ReadyForAnything Twitter Party

This post brought to you by Walmart. The content and opinions expressed below are that of this mama loves.

Driving around doing errands this morning, going to swim lessons, eating lunch, visiting my dad, stopping for fresh corn today, I counted seventeen times I needed to wipe something or someone off.  That’s only since we left home this morning.  Life isn’t always neat and tidy, no matter how hard we try, and as a mom, I try to be prepared for those times.  Angel Soft® facial tissues are now available at Walmart in flexible, water resistant, durable packs. That means I can keep them in the van, the swim bag, the kids’ backpacks, without worry that a little wet towel or water bottle leakage will ruin the whole pack. It also means I’m prepared no matter if I have my own bag, or just the kids, because I always insist they each have a pack of tissues in their bags as well.

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Angel Soft® tissue packs conveniently fit in your purse, camera bag, backpack, coat pocket, etc., making them available at home and on the goThat means they are at hand when you need them, on the go, when you don’t have all of your supplies from home on hand.

Since many of life’s little messes seem to happen before, during or after school… and its August, back to school time, we hope you’ll join us for the…

#ReadyForAnything Twitter Party

Dates: 08/07/2014

Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm EST

Host/CoHost:@FamilyFocusBlog/@BrettBMartin

Prizes: $1000 in prizes! (4) $50 Walmart gift cards, (4) $75 Walmart gift cards, (2) $100 Walmart gift cards and (1 grand prize) $300 Walmart gift card

Hashtag: #ReadyForAnything

RSVP:

Must attend party to win, winners announced throughout party.

First time at a Twitter Party? Check out these first-time party tips! http://bit.ly/18onQgl

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart. All opinions are 100% mine.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Is my pet fat? #perfectweight #sciencediet

Having pets is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as humans. It’s also a great responsibility. Keeping our pets healthy is part of that responsibility. I’ve had overweight pets in my lifetime.  When I met my husband, his cat, Raistlin, was quite overweight, and on kitty diet food.  She did lose four pounds over a long time, but it was a really tough process and not fun for any of us.  (Especially when our friends, Karly and Ally, would sneak her extra food because she looked hungry all the time… love them both, but it didn’t help!)

And there’s our old boy Tobey, who, quite frankly, is a little overweight but not a lot.  He has two fatty deposits on his trunk that make him look a lot bigger than he is.  He’s such a sweet boy, we want him to be with us for a long time!

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According to a recent survey by the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, only 11% of parents of overweight
pets realize their pets are overweight.

Only 11% of us realize this? That’s not a good number. Just like people, the more weight our furrier family members carry, the more at risk they are for disease, illness and injury. Their lives are shorter than ours already! I will tell you, with some pets, it isn’t always easy to know if they are overweight from sight alone.

This video featuring Dr. Ashley Gallagher gives some great pointers including, of course, taking your pet to the
veterinarian. But what if you want to know if that visit is necessary? Well, try standing above your dog or cat
while looking down. If you can’t see your pet’s ribs or feel them while placing your hands on the side of their
chest, they are probably overweight. Sometimes it can be  tough to know if your pet is overweight but watching helpful videos like this can help you to  assess a pet’s situation. Check out this pet weight score tool to see if your pet may be overweight!

 

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Hill’s® Science Diet® Perfect Weight offers a breakthrough blend of natural ingredients that helps pets burn calories
no matter how active they are. It’s like feeding your pet a workout, ensuring weight loss success within 10 weeks. If you remember, we shared the story of Thundercleese in June, and his dog weight loss story.  Dog weight loss IS possible.  Cat weight loss is possible too.

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Thundercleese’s dog weight loss success story is thanks to the 10 week turnaround.  His family committed to using Hill’s Perfect Weight Food and watched the results happen through the challenge.  Here are a few other pet parent’s thoughts on the 10 Week Turnaround:

Ethel lost 11% of her weight in just 10 weeks.

ethel-turnaround
“Knowing the reputation of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, I felt good feeding it to her. I was very pleased for Ethel to
be chosen for the program and am quite happy with her results.” – Shawn Teets, Indianapolis, IN

 

Joey lost 8.2% of his weight in just 10 weeks.

joey-turnaround

“He has much more energy than he used to. Perfect Weight keeps him full longer. I have also noticed the
biggest change around his hip area. He looks like an actual dog shape.” – Katie Olson, Fennimore, WI

So I ask you- is my pet fat? Is YOUR pet fat? What are you going to do to find out, and then what are you going to do in order to rectify the situation?

 

 

 

 

 

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread
the word about Hill’s® Science Diet® Perfect Weight Food, but This Mama Loves only shares information we
feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

School supply shopping is FUN! #BTSwithTarget

It is, it really is. My kids actually LOVE going shopping for school supplies. I might still grab myself a supply or two for old time’s sake…. and our fave place for school supply shopping is always Target.  I’m actually not sure my kids are aware other stores may carry school supplies. Target has all that they need, in characters/styles/colors they want, and pricing that works for my wallet.

school-shopping-target

This year, my littlest one is going to Kindergarten all day.  My son will be in second grade and my oldest, she’ll be in fourth grade.  My kids attend a PreK-8 school and grades 4-6 are in the upstairs of the school.  My oldest  needs a larger sized backpack, to hold the larger amounts of homework and supplies needed for this change. She has been adamant lately that she’s not into pink anymore. Like, at all.  It’s for little girls, mom.  (And as you can see…..)

backpacks-lunchboxes-target

Naturally, my oldest has decided she’s GROWN UP and hitting the big time and wants big kid themed supplies.  I guess she’s done with the cute and adorable phase. (Or so I thought…)

puppy-binder-target

Apparently, no one’s ever too old for adorable puppies. Sigh. If  only she needed a binder this year!

There are SO many fun new backpacks and lunchboxes out there. We couldn’t stop giggling at the Minion lunchbox from Despicable Me 2!

minion-lunchbox-target
There’s a matching backpack. In fact, there are many fun backpacks that light up and/or make sounds at Target- for boys, girls, and for all kids!  We may have spent a while in this aisle playing with them. Maybe not.

My littlest isn’t in need of a backpack or a lunchbox this year but she IS happy to be in need of her own crayons, markers, and colored pencils for the first time.  She’s SO excited about starting Kindergarten in a few weeks!

my-little-pony-supplies-target

 

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Every little thing is a really big deal.

Where do you go for fun school supplies for your family?

Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.

 

Time saving tips for kitchen cleanup #EasyCookingwithPAM

There are many things that I would rather spend my time on than kitchen cleanup.  Especially given my um…. propensity for incidents, there are often extra things that need attention when I’m done prepping a recipe or a whole meal. I’ll do ANYTHING to save time when I’ve got kitchen cleanup duty!
time-saving-tips-kitchen-cleanup
Take last night, for example. I was making a recipe for a post, and…….well, truth be told, I was gabbing with my sister on the phone and distracted and might have poured WAY too much brownie batter in the waffle iron.

too-much-batter-waffle-iron

 

There was an even bigger puddle of started-to-cook brownie batter on the opposite side of the iron all over the counter.

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That’s right, my friends.  They don’t call me a messy Martin for nothing!

So where I had sprayed with PAM? That was easy, peasy for cleanup.  Just like it always is.  Almost nothing to do but a quick wipedown with my dishrag.  The outside of the iron and counters?  Those took a lot longer.

Other time saving tips for kitchen cleanup?

-Less is more.  Use less dishes, pots and pans. See what you can do to use the same pan twice in one meal. Better yet, skip the pots and pans and head to the grill.  Way less kitchen time, plus fresh air.

-Clean up as you go.  I am not always able to do this, but it REALLY cuts down on cleanup time around here for me to take care of things I dirty AS I go.

-Enlist help. It’s good for everyone to chip in and help out!

-Use PAM. Why? It saves time later.  Just that waffle iron alone would have taken 10 minutes of scrub time for me, and instead of scrubbing I was hanging out playing cards with the family.

 

PAM Logo

Leaving up to 99% less residue, PAM is your ally in the kitchen and allows you to save time during prep and clean up.

 

What are YOUR time saving tips for kitchen cleanup?

 

 

 

 

“Disclosure: Compensation was provided by ConAgra via Mode Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ConAgra.”

 

Graham Cracker S’mores Brownie Recipe

Hershey’s challenged me to create a recipe using their classic Hershey’s Syrup.  Being a chocolate lover, I knew chocolate was in my recipe’s future…being summer… I wanted graham crackers and marshmallows with it.  I’ll be honest- I tried a S’mores Pizza recipe which tasted delicious but didn’t stay together as a graham cracker pizza crust– crumbled onto some ice cream, everyone loved it… but it was a fail, sadly. After the pizza fail, I decided to go more in the bar family, well, because brownies.

Graham cracker crumbs were in my house, begging to be used.  I thought about trying for a pie, or something similar, but then I realized it was really all about the brownies.  I’d seen a Graham Cracker Brownie recipe on Taste of Home a while back, bookmarked it and forgot about it until now. I made a few modifications.

Hershey’s has been around forever.  It’s my favorite chocolate brand, hands down.  Most of us grew up enjoying some Hershey’s Syrup in our milk, many of us had it on top of ice cream as a treat.  It’s kind of a natural progression that we’d start to use the Syrup flavors in our recipes! I’m game to try anything that lets me have my favorite chocolate some more…s’more…get it?

{Hershey’s Syrup} Graham Cracker S’mores Brownies

graham-cracker-smores-brownies

Ingredients

3 TBSP Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

1/3 bag Hershey‘s Baking Melts (chocolate chips are fine too!) — if you are crazy for chocolate you can always add up to 1/2 a bag these are just already really rich and I think less is more. Feel free to change the flavors of these to suit your taste- dark chocolate would be delicious, as would white chocolate chips with a some of the Strawberry Syrup drizzled on top!

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup for drizzling.  You could really have some fun with flavors and use any of the other flavor varieties to change things up a bit!

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs.  You can buy the crumbs or do it yourself- one way saves you time, the other is stress relief.  Your choice!

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 tsp baking powder

3 TBSP milk

Mini Marshmallows (Want to mix things up? Use strawberry flavored marshmallows)

 

 

graham cracker brownie ingredients

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl

Place ingredients in a greased brownie pan- the batter is THICK so you’ll want to just press it with your hands

graham cracker brownies

Bake at 350 for about 28-30 minutes

Immediately sprinkle your mini marshmallows on top of the brownies.

Put back in oven for about 5 minutes until the marshmallows start to turn a golden brown.

Remove brownies from oven, drizzle Hershey’s Syrup on top of the pan, and allow to cool.

Seriously.  Let them cool.  It’s hard to wait but it’s worth it.

Pour yourself a nice cold glass of milk..

When the brownies are cool, cut them into small squares.

 What are some of your family’s favorite ways to enjoy Hershey’s Syrups?

 

5.0 from 7 reviews
Graham Cracker S'mores Brownie Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Graham crackers meet brownies, topped with marshmallow and chocolate. You've never had s'mores like this!
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 3 TBSP Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
  • ⅓ bag Hershey Baking Melts (chocolate chips are fine too!) -- if you are crazy for chocolate you can always add up to ½ a bag these are just already really rich and I think less is more. Feel free to change the flavors of these to suit your taste- dark chocolate would be delicious, as would white chocolate chips with a some of the Strawberry Syrup drizzled on top!
  • Hershey's Chocolate Syrup for drizzling. You could really have some fun with flavors and use any of the other flavor varieties to change things up a bit!1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs. You can buy the crumbs or do it yourself- one way saves you time, the other is stress relief. Your choice!
  • 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • Mini Marshmallows (Want to mix things up? Use strawberry flavored marshmallows)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Place ingredients in a greased brownie pan
  3. Bake at 350 for about 28-30 minutes
  4. Immediately sprinkle your mini marshmallows on top of the brownies.
  5. Put back in oven for about 5 minutes until the marshmallows start to turn a golden brown.
  6. Remove brownies from oven, drizzle Hershey's syrup on top of the pan, and allow to cool.
  7. Seriously. Let them cool. It's hard to wait but it's worth it.
  8. Pour yourself a nice cold glass of milk..
  9. When the brownies are cool, cut them into small squares.
  10. Enjoy.

Ways to Save on Vacation Bible School

We have a wonderful church congregation.  It’s small, it’s welcoming- it’s more an extended family than “just” a church home. But, like with many things, with smaller groups comes a smaller budget, and when our church decided to do our Vacation Bible School program again this year, we were faced with limited financial resources to utilize for the program. We’re pretty resourceful as a congregation, and this was no exception.

ways-save-vacation-bible-school

Ways to Save on Vacation Bible School

Use what you have

The first thing we did was go through our supply closet to see what we had.  For example- lanyards were kept from previous VBS weeks. SO we knew we just needed nametags of some fashion. One expense- gone!

oriental-trading-vbs-nametags

Craft and Activity Supplies

This is a big one.  While the VBS packages sold from companies are great, perfectly suited to themes and convenient- they are also super expensive.  We looked to Oriental Trading again this year to find our craft and activity supplies- far more affordable and just as fun and engaging for the kids! OT has products that go along with many of the VBS themes that are out each year, so you can know that what you are getting fits in with your chosen theme.

oriental-trading-vbs-picture-frame

Ask for donations

When some members of our congregation have heard that the Board of Christian Education for our church was hoping to have, say, a local museum come to do a program on site for part of the VBS program, they’ve stepped up and done a donation for all or part of the fee from the museum.  Knowing what specific needs are and letting the members of the church know may just get you partway to what you need- if not all the way.

Be Creative. Think outside the box.

Look around your church congregation.  Look at people’s talents, their businesses.  Perhaps you can’t swing that perfectly-matched-to-theme jewelry craft that the kids add to each day.  But  maybe someone in your congregation knows how to make paper beads…and someone else has the ability to donate a few reams of colored paper to you.  Just because it isn’t exactly what the program calls for doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun.

Have FUN! Relax!

VBS isn’t just about learning. Having fun is what it’s really about.  I think our kids had the most fun doing water balloon races and hanging out together.  It’s the love and community that they’ll remember….not the name brand on the packages or the quantity of crafts they did.

oriental-trading-vbs-keychain-set

 

We’ll be looking to get creative with our limited budget again this year- and definitely looking to Oriental Trading for many of our supplies again.  Now we just need to choose a theme for this year’s program! Thanks to Oriental Trading for supporting our program with some supplies last year :)

 

Fabulous Side Dishes (Giveaway)

Whether you’re cooking a dinner for two, cooking for the family, or hosting a dinner get together, you’ll need some good side dishes. While it’s true that the main dish is usually the hero of any meal, side dishes are still important! You certainly don’t want to serve canned corn to guests! With these recipes, you’ll find some classic side dishes with a twist, and some absolutely mouthwatering dishes that are sure to impress! Sides don’t have to be simple, they don’t have to be fancy- they can even be the star of the meal if you want. Live a little.  Bend the rules.  Sometimes we like to do a quick main dish and focus on the sides that go with them- a Ristorante pizza or chicken on the grill can be made into a fabulous meal with something special on the side to go with it!

pizza-vegetale-ristorante

 

I’m sure you remember by now that Ristorante by Dr. Oetker is our go-to frozen pizza brand. I always have 2-3 of them on hand in the freezer downstairs.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and with plenty of delightfully pleasing toppings, something for everyone.  The gourmet toppings lend themselves to a full meal and not just quick pizza fixes, so you feel like you are indulging a little!

 

To see if Ristorante pizzas are available near you, check out the Store Locator. Don’t see Ristorante in your supermarket? You can put in a request with the store manager!

 

Be sure to like Ristorante Pizza on Facebook and enter their Savor Your Summer sweepstakes for fun giveaways before it’s over!

 

I love Ristorante because of its delicious toppings, particularly the veggies. Check out these fabulous side dishes we found around the web- wonderful side dishes to complement Ristorante pizzas and sneak even more veggies into your meal!

Summer Salad with Pepitas

We have a garden and are fortunate enough to be able to grow much of what we enjoy IN our salads right in our backyard. Salad’s always a quick and easy side dish, all year round, but in summer, we like to mix things up a bit.  Fresh chopped broccoli and pepitas add some fun new flavors to this salad, a little more calcium and protein, and a little extra crunch! Perfect with a pizza for dinner on the porch.

summer-side-pepita-salad-ristorante-speciale

Grilled Zucchini- This is a favorite simply because it’s a quick and easy recipe you can make with just about any in season veggie.  Simple seasonings and a quick turn on the grill make for flavorful, healthy and delicious sides.

grilled-zucchini-dinner

Lemon Parmesan Broccoli

lemon-parm-broccoli

Lemon Parmesan Broccoli goes SO well with the Pizza Vegetale. Lots of delicious flavors and no meat- a great Vegetarian dinner idea that’s quick and easy.

Lemon Pepper Asparagus

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Asparagus is one of our top 3 veggies in this house- we’ll eat it any time of year with just about any meal.  The simple flavors of this side dish pair also pair well with any of the Ristorante pizzas- they will serve to complement the pizza toppings and not pull away from them.  Lemon pepper asparagus is also a great side to pair with fish for a main course!

Roasted Cauliflower

roasted-cauliflower-salad

Pizza and a salad with roasted cauliflower?  Great dinner idea, ready in no time!

 

What are YOUR favorite side dishes?

summer-side-dish-prize-pack

Ristorante by Dr. Oetker is going to send one of my readers a Side Dish Prize Pack including:

10.5″ Serving Bowl, Crate & Barrel
13.75” Platter, Crate & Barrel
Wooden Salad Servers, Amazon.com
2 Ristorante coupons

 

 This post is sponsored by our friends at Ristorante by Dr. Oetker.  Opinions are my own. 

7 Ways to Feel Your Best

No offense to the men in our lives, but ladies, I’m speaking to you today.  Myself, included.  I’m not even going to talk about LOOKING your best, because I am of the firm belief that feeling your best leads to looking your best. We can, for the most part, figure out what makes us look best.

5 Ways to Feel Your Best

7-ways-feel-your-best

1. Get enough rest

This would be on that most of us don’t get enough rest. How can we expect to feel our best when our bodies aren’t rested?  I say this having unintentionally gotten lost in a new book and realizing only after 2:30 am that I was still awake and still reading…and am currently feeling like my head is full of cotton and that I may be part zombie all day today). I’m also quite guilty of staying up late to finish up laundry, baking for something, or getting up extra early to get something ready for that day. Many of us are.

 

2. Exercise

It should be a no brainer- but we all need to do it.  Find little ways to add it in if you (like me) aren’t in top shape. Park further away when you go someplace.  Try some planks while commercials are on.  Sit on an exercise ball to watch your favorite program.  Choose to head outside and enjoy the amazing world that we live in even for just a few minutes each day.

 

3. Do things for YOU.

If you have a hobby you enjoy- DO it. Make the time to do this, and commit to that time. I’m again guilty of not doing this but have been really working hard to get back into this (scrapbooking is a big hobby I love and haven’t done in years- I let so many other things come first). We need an outlet, each of us.  It doesn’t have to cost money and it doesn’t have to involve a lot of time- it could be as simple as picking up a book from the library and giving yourself 20 minutes a day of uninterrupted reading time

carefree image

 

4. Have friends who build you up

This is true for all of us in life.  We don’t need a lot of friends.  We need the friends who matter, who lift us up, who are there not because we ask them to be but because they know we need them.  Those friends who don’t judge us, don’t criticize us. The friends who build us UP and fill our buckets.

 

5. Ask for help when you need it

Again, not always easy. Asking for help when you need it instead of trying to do this superhero thing that no human is actually able to accomplish on their own isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of being human.  We all need a little help sometimes.  That’s what friends are for.  (See #4!)

 6. Eat Well

Please note I’m not preaching.  Feed your body.  Eat healthy, indulge on occasion.

sweet potato tacos

7. Drink Water

Each and every one of us needs to drink water.  Staying hydrated will help us feel our best for sure!

 

 

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So soft, so thin, so absorbent. Carefree® Acti-Fresh® daily liners leave you feeling nothing but fresh. Get $0.50 off any Carefree product at http://www.carefreeliners.com/carefree-coupons-offers.

 

 

 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Energizer Personal Care via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Energizer Personal Care.

 

5 Things to Know About School Nutrition Programs

Last week I was invited to attend the School Nutrition Association‘s National Conference for a day. Having three kids in school full time this year for the first time means I’ll have three kids who may buy lunch at school. I like to be informed about what my family is eating.

Attending the conference was a great experience for me. Not only did I get to meet two long time blog pals in person for the first time but I also learned oh so very much about school nutrition programs in general. I really kind of had no idea just how uninformed I truly was before I went to this conference!

Five Things About School Nutrition Programs

things to know about school nutrition programs

1. This is not your mama’s school lunch.

Or even my school lunch. Times have changed. Menus have changed.

I have vivid memories of some of the stuff that was served on our plates in school Especially vegetables!  They didn’t, not once, look anything like these!

school nutrition-simplot

2. What you see on school menus is not what you find at the grocery store.

This was a big one for me. Seeing toaster pastries on the menu for breakfast or chicken nuggets, for example, for lunch often gave me pause. But ANYTHING served in schools has to meet standards- so maybe that brand of chicken nuggets you use at home is the same brand they serve at your kids’ school, but the breading used is whole grain… the toaster pastries have to be within a set number of calories, grains, salt content, etc…the pasta served isn’t the same as you have in your pantry.

school-nutrition-barilla

Even cereals served for breakfast are lower in calories, lower in sugar, lower in fat content, and made with whole grains. So while we adults may not love the idea that Fruit Loops are served for breakfast, it makes (most of) the kids happy, and we can know that the kids having that for breakfast are not having the same sugary cereals that we see on supermarket shelves.

 

3. There are federal guidelines for school nutrition programs.

This probably should be higher in the list, but this isn’t a list based on importance.  The USDA has requirements and guidelines for foods served in schools.  Period.  The items on the school menus that come home (or pop up in your email) ALL have to meet those guidelines.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update these nutrition standards for the first time in 15 years. The new regulations, effective July 1, 2012, require cafeterias to offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and limit sodium, calories and unhealthy fat in every school meal.

To ensure all foods and beverages sold in school during the school day are healthy choices, HHFKA also required USDA to create nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold in competition to reimbursable meals. These “competitive foods” are sold in vending machines, snack bars and a la carte lines. In June 2013, USDA issued the “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule establishing these standards, which go into effect July 1, 2014.

 

4. When a brand you recognize (ie Pizza Hut, Dominos) is listed on your school lunch menu, the foods are made for school programs and are not the same as what you get in the restaurant and/or store.

I honestly thought when seeing Dominos Pizza or Pizza Hut on the kids’ lunch menus that perhaps the school had an agreement and it was a way to save costs!  But, as it turns out, both brands, as well as others, have their school nutrition versions of products.  Pizza is a popular food in my house (as it is in many) and is always a day that the kids, especially my son, want to buy lunch when it’s up on the menu.  It’s a lot easier to agree to him having pizza for lunch once a week knowing that the ingredients meet the USDA requirements and are made with whole grains, lower sodium and fat levels.

 

5. Most school nutrition programs aren’t funded by the board of education. Most offer a la carte items to offset costs.  Even the ice cream bars, for example, have to meet FDA guidelines for school nutrition.

Starting this year, my oldest had a la carte items available for purchase every day.  You can imagine my surprise to hear that she had ice cream available for purchase every day.  Actually, the first time I spoke with the PR team from the School Nutrition Association about attending this conference, this was one of the first things I said to them.  I realize I’m in a position most aren’t, and was able to attend a conference for the folks who work with school nutrition in so many aspects.

I was also brought around to some of the booths set up in the expo hall by a Nutrition professional from Connecticut (where I live, if you don’t know) who knew of my concerns and took the time to plan visits to brands and companies that she knows meet the standards we have here in CT…including Blue Bunny ice cream, which she knows to meet our state standards. While I’m still not enamored with the idea that kids have ice cream available for purchase daily, I do understand more now that this is to help with the costs of running school lunch programs and a la carte items are one way to help offest those costs.  I am MUCH more comfortable with the idea that those ice creams available to the kids for purchase  have to meet the same standards that anything else in a school cafeteria , which means they cannot be over a certain number of calories, fat content or sodium content.  I (wrongly) assumed, as many other parents have when I have spoken with them, that those ice cream products offered to the kids in the a la carte line were the same as what we could see in the grocery store freezer cases.  They aren’t. The folks at Blue Bunny and my guide, Cindy (thank you Cindy!), were really great about showing me just what met our standards and what the calorie counts must be for snacks, serving sizes, sodium content, etc.

 

 

Be sure to like Tray Talk for Parents!

 So now that you know what I’ve learned- my question to you is this.  Did you learn anything new about school nutrition programs from this post? Do you have more questions?