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Lessons from the Wrappers Kids Leave Behind

Lunch trash becomes a forum to promote healthy eating.

While children may have visions of sugar plums this holiday season, Laurie Jung, the school nurse at Burnet Hill Elementary, wishes their dreams were of fresh plums – or strawberries or any other food with good nutritional value.

Sugar is sweet … a special spice, but sometimes it’s naughty and not so nice, reads a poem on a nutritional wall outside the nurse’s office.  

It’s a message the nurse was moved to promote after she collected dozens of candy wrappers left behind in the school cafeteria. She’d rather the students were ending their lunch with apples, oranges and carrots, not the Skittles and Snickers, and even soda she was finding.  

Jung posted the wrappers on the bulletin board next to sugar packets to show the kids what they’re eating – and how much sugar has been added.

The message for parents is simple:

“Preschoolers averaging 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day should limit added sugar to about four teaspoons per day. One teaspoon of sugar equals four grams of sugar and 16 calories,” Jung said. “Children ages 4-8 who average 1,600 calories per day should limit added sugar to about three teaspoons a day. Foods that have sugar added to them are not healthy foods compared to foods with natural sugar in them such as fruits and vegetables.”  

The message for children is even simpler, helped by the school’s resident poet, Carolyn DeLia, who added verses to help kids remember the sugars that are better choices:
 
But good news can help you
Decide what to eat
Fructose and sucrose and lactose
Are Sweet!
 
They have funny names but they're sugars too!
Why not be smart and try something new?
Next time you really crave something sweet
Reach for a healthier good sugar treat!

Two of the school’s healthy eaters checked out the new board. “I only eat them [candy] once a week,” said Sarah pointing to the candy wrappers.  

Added Chase, “My mom doesn’t like me to eat cookies so I have Cheerios instead.”

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