On April 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new effort funded by the American Rescue Plan to provide adequate nutrition to more than 30 million children over the summer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “summer months are difficult for low-income children because they lack access to school meals that fill a nutrition gap during the school year.”
Our community outreach program, #GiveMe5, under the generous sponsorship of Kohl’s Cares has been assisting our financially stressed patient families since the beginning of this year. Over three hundred families have benefited from our food assistance supplemental program.
This summer, we want to highlight the importance of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and how to make them part of your daily routine. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and polyphenols necessary for good health. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help you prevent some types of cancers and chronic illnesses.
Ten tips to help you eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Keep them visible. “Out of sight, out of mind” could not be truer for fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl of rinsed, fresh fruits on the table, kitchen counter, or if precut, in the refrigerator.
- Rethink fruits. Add them to your cereal, dry or cooked; waffles, pancakes, smoothies, salads, and even on toast, such as an avocado toast topped with grapefruit sections and pomegranate seeds.
- Make them your favorite snack or dessert. Whenever your body craves a sugary dessert, grab an apple or two nectarines. Consider frozen strawberries dipped in dark chocolate or mashed bananas in overnight oats.
- Be prepared. Rinsing and cutting fresh fruits and vegetables can be time consuming. Cutting up a batch of carrots into julienne strips, or celery stalks into thin sticks, makes them more accessible to grab-and-go. Pairing with hummus or peanut butter increases the nutrient profile, and makes them more fun to eat.
- Mix and match by colors. Fruits and vegetables come in different colors. The various colors are just an indication of the pigments that give them their antioxidant properties and health benefits. When you combine fruits and vegetables, you are giving your body the strongest combination of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and polyphenols.
- Eat in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the freshest, more nutritious and less expensive choices. Visit a Farmers Market, or check your local supermarket for promotions and reduced prices.
- Stock up on canned vegetables. Canned vegetables can be a lifesaver, and a great companion to any meal. Keep canned beans on hand such as garbanzos, lentils or kidney beans, beets, corn, and mushrooms. Always select “low sodium” or “no salt added.”
- Don’t forget to visit the reach-in freezers for out of season or tropical fruits and vegetables. Frozen vegetables are very versatile, and just as nutritious as fresh veggies. Avoid those that have added ingredients such as cheese or a creamy sauce.
- Fruits and vegetables are the obvious choice. When experimenting with new foods, choose a new vegetable or fruit. They might just become your new favorite food. Persimmons, passion fruit or maracuyá, lychee, dragon fruit or pitaya are fruits that have been around for hundreds of years, yet many children are unfamiliar with them. Fun fact: Lettuce is the most popular vegetable in the world.
- Be a good role model. Children learn by mimicking their parents. Set a good example by eating fruits and vegetables with meals and snacks.
This summer, we want to help our patient families increase the intake of fruits and vegetables by doubling up our food assistance program. Celebrate the summer months safely at home or outdoors, with family and friends, eating healthy nutritious foods!
There are many benefits to eating well, from disease prevention to overall health and wellness. That’s why Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation have partnered with Kohl’s Cares on a program called #GiveMe5 to encourage children and families throughout the community to stay active and eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Our partnership brings healthy eating tips and recipes to kids in local schools and to families at various community events throughout the year. For more information, please visit our #GiveMe5 page.