As my children are heading into their final weeks of school, I am so grateful for the “routines” they have had with their meals throughout the school year. We are fortunate to have a foodservice provider at their school who cares deeply about nutrition and health. Cereal and fruit in the morning, they love their healthy lunches, and dinner is always a lean protein and lots of vegetables. We are bracing for summer, though, when routines get thrown out the window.
In addition, all too often over the summer months in homes with both parents working, many children are often left to nutritionally fend for themselves. This is compounded by less consistent exercise in the warmer weather and usually more TV and video games.
Children of all socio-economic backgrounds tend to gain weight over the summer because of a lack of organized activity, fewer structured meals, and greater exposure to sugary and fatty foods. If children from families with the resources to provide nutritionally balanced meals during the school year have their diets compromised during the summer months, imagine the impact on children who typically have access to healthy food choices only through their school breakfast and lunch programs. Here in New Jersey, where 1 out of 4 children live in poverty, summer can mean more junk food and far less opportunity for regular healthy eating.
Here’s the good news in Northern New Jersey for the summer of 2018. Table to Table offers a free, easy solution to feeding hungry children healthy and nutritious food throughout the entire summer. Their parents simply need to visit one of the 140 agencies we serve in Essex, Passaic, Bergen and Hudson counties.
Our fresh produce, fruit and lean meats are rescued from stores like Shoprite and Whole Foods, and distributors like HelloFresh, and delivered, free of charge, to many programs that serve NJ’s children. We also have established weekly mobile markets, where families of all sizes can pick up fresh, healthy produce every Friday at two Newark locations.
As the “official” start to summer begins, keep in mind the 5,4,3,2,1 Rule recommended for children:
Summer does not have to mean poor nutrition for any of our children. Make summer fun and healthy so that even though school is out, nutrition stays in.