ONCE AGAIN, ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR HAS COMMENCED. It’s a year of many big changes for school cafeterias all across the country—thanks to your hard work and dedication. You make such a commitment to the health and well-being of your student customers in everything you do, from the meals you serve to the activities you plan to the welcoming place you create with big smiles and loving attention. It’s time to turn a little bit more of that loving attention to yourself! If you’ve been too busy caring for your family at home and your kids and coworkers at school to focus on maintaining or improving your own health, well, you’re not alone. And a new school year is a perfect occasion to make a personal pledge to prioritize wellness. Last month, at SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC) in Denver, President Sandra Ford, SNS, announced the launch of an exciting new personal wellness program developed especially for school nutrition professionals. The provides the resources and inspiration to help SNA members make better health and wellness choices. Sponsored by Jennie-O Turkey Store, the STEPS Challenge program is free to SNA national members. How does the STEPS Challenge work? It couldn’t be easier! Designed to be completely customizable to your needs, interests and schedule, the program offers maximum flexibility. Let’s take a look at how taking simple STEPS will help you get healthier and feel set your goals. STEPS is a personal wellness program. What do you want to tackle in your own health and wellness efforts? Do you want to lose weight? Move more? Make better nutrition choices? Reduce your stress level? Waste less time in front of the television? Learn to meditate? Improve your healthy cooking techniques? Stop avoiding regular health screenings? In this program, you set the goal(s) that you want to achieve. Not sure where to begin? For 2012-13, SNA has developed nine different monthly challenges; you can choose to participate in none, some or all! The box at right details each challenge. track your progress. How many times have you set a resolution for self-improvement and found yourself months later wondering what happened to your good intentions? Studies show that tracking your efforts can make a significant difference in achieving your goals. Tracking keeps you accountable—and when you see the progress you’re making, it can give you more resolve to stay the course. You’re encouraged to track your efforts whether you have identified your own goal or are participating in one of the official monthly STEPS challenges. embrace new habits. Small steps can lead to major change! From working with the children in your school nutrition program, you already know that it often takes a lot of repetition to get kids to accept new foods. The same is true of any healthy habit. We each need to make a commitment to break old, self-destructive routines and embrace new behaviors by doing them over and over until they become familiar and comfortable. Whether it’s learning to reduce the portion of pasta you put on your dinner plate or building up your muscles to walk a mile or more, it will take time. The monthly STEPS challenges are designed to focus your attention on building that habit by staying focused on one new behavior every day for four weeks. promote healthy eating. The STEPS Challenge was designed for school nutrition professionals precisely because you are in the business of promoting healthy food choices to children. One of the best ways that you can do this is by practicing what you preach and becoming a better role model. Most of us don’t do what we’re told, we are inspired by the actions and success of others—and this holds true for children, too. Show your customers just how much you value your own health and well-being and understand the value of making nutritious food decisions. share your success. When you share your success, you won’t just be inspiring your students, you also have the power to inspire your family, coworkers and friends to make their own healthy changes. You also have the power to inspire thousands of complete strangers! The STEPS Challenge website features a share-your-success page, and School Nutrition will be highlighting selected stories in future issues. We’re all in this together—and we are stronger and more capable when we can learn from one another’s trials and triumphs. SNA and Jennie-O have teamed up to provide you with many helpful tools and resources to meet your goals. Visit www. schoolnutrition.org/steps to find an official toolkit featuring healthy recipes, fun fitness ideas, wellness tips and more. Need suggestions for making healthy choices when you eat out at a restaurant? How about some tricks for getting a good night’s rest? Do you know the dangers of fad diets? You will find advice in these areas and many others. The website is also your go-to source to learn about each of the monthly challenges and download the challenge tracking sheets. “Jennie-O Turkey Store is excited to be partnering with SNA to promote health and wellness,” says Chuck Dinnis, director of education sales. “It’s a logical extension of our company’s philosophy. We know that turkey’s nutrition profile fits perfectly into a healthy diet and can be an important part of new school menus. That’s why we started the Thursday Is Turkey Day movement— to support our school partners in their efforts to be part of a whole school approach to student wellness that incorporates healthy eating and physical activity. We believe the STEPS Challenge will do for school nutrition professionals what our Thursday Is Turkey Day movement does for the children they serve.” These are exciting times for the school nutrition profession. The changes presented by the new regulations will mean some challenges, but the potential rewards to our nation’s children are well worth the effort. Taking steps to improve your own health and well-being will present some challenges, too. But, again, the potential rewards are worth it! Take the pledge today and challenge yourself to be the best you can be! NEW CHALLENGES Every Month Are you ready to step up your game in various areas of health and wellness? Each month, the STEPS Challenge offers a different challenge to help you meet goals for nutrition, fitness and mental health. September 2012: Focus on Fruit You can award yourself points for every serving of fruit you eat this month. Choosing sweet, succulent fruit is a great way to start building those new healthy eating habits. October 2012: Buddy Up for Fitness Award yourself points every time you log a physical activity session or workout with a friend, coworker or family member. Whether it’s walking, yoga or biking, physical activity is always easier and more fun with a friend! November 2012: Vary Your Veggies Award yourself points for every serving of vegetables that you consume throughout the month. A handful of carrots as a snack, broccoli with dinner or even a glass of vegetable juice will add up to good health! Want to earn double points? That’s what you’ll get when you choose dark, leafy greens. December 2012: Manage Holiday Stress Enjoy your holidays this year by taking some simple steps to reduce your stress. You can award yourself points every time you make a conscious effort to relax and let it go this month. Take a walk, spend 10 minutes in meditation, go ahead and let yourself say “no” to being overscheduled. January 2013: Make More Time for Fitness Are you ready to move more this year? You can earn points for each 20- to 30-minute activity session you log this month. Is this the year you resolve to try a new activity, like yoga or dancing or spinning? Award yourself double points when you follow through! February 2013: Make it Whole Grain Rich MyPlate guidance recommends that at least half of your grains be whole grains. This month, try making small switches, like replacing regular pasta with a whole-wheat version or adding a side dish of brown rice at dinner time. Every time you choose whole grain alternatives, you will earn points! March 2013: Brighten Your Day With Breakfast Don’t just celebrate the benefits of breakfast during National School Breakfast Week activities with your students—make the morning meal a priority all month long! Award yourself points every time you don’t skip the most important meal of the day. April 2013: Gobble up Guilt-Free Dinners This month, you can earn points every time you swap a higher-fat meat (such as ground beef or hotdogs) for a lower-fat protein alternative (such as turkey, chicken or tofu). You will earn even more points when you try these new healthy habits at breakfast and lunch, too. May 2013: Minimize Your Screen Time Break away from your television, computer and smartphone this month. Earn points for each hour you make a point to turn off, tune out and choose a physical activity instead. Cleaning the house, walking the dog and playing with your kids or grandkids all count! YOU Could Win! While you certainly will be rewarded in the good feelings that you’ll enjoy when you meet each month’s STEPS challenge, program participants who submit tracking sheets that fall in the highest official points range also will be eligible for special prize drawings. Simply submit your tracking sheet to email@example.com or fax it to (301) 686-3115. Examples of monthly prizes include • a one-year subscription to Health magazine • an electronic pedometer with stopwatch • cookbooks and fitness DVDs • gift packages from Bath & Body Works and Harry & David • gift certificates to Dick’s Sporting Goods, Jennie-O Turkey Store and Spa Wish STEPS participants who achieve the highest official points range in all nine monthly challenges will be eligible for a grand prize drawing: A trip for two to attend the finale taping of NBC’s hit reality competition “The Biggest Loser!”
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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