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Family Dinners Nourish Good Mental Health in Adolescents
Benefits of family meals to mental health examined in a large community sample of adolescents
Regular family suppers contribute to good mental health in adolescents, according to a study co-authored by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Family meal times are a measurable signature of social exchanges in the home that benefit adolescents' well-being – regardless of whether or not they feel they can easily talk to their parents.
"More frequent family dinners related to fewer emotional and behavioural problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviours towards others and higher life satisfaction," says Elgar, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry, whose research centers on social inequalities in health and family influences on child mental health.
The study, conducted by Elgar, Wendy Craig and Stephen Trites of Queen's University, examined the relation between frequency of family dinners and positive and negative aspects of mental health. The researchers used a national sample of 26,069 adolescents aged 11 to 15 years who participated in the 2010 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study. The researchers found the same positive effects of family meal time on the mental health of the young subjects, regardless of gender, age or family affluence.
"We were surprised to find such consistent effects on every outcome we studied," says Elgar. "From having no dinners together to eating together 7 nights a week, each additional dinner related to significantly better mental health."
During the study, the adolescents submitted data on the weekly frequency of family dinners, ease of parent-adolescent communication and five dimensions of mental health, including internalizing and externalizing problems, emotional well-being, more helpful behaviors and life satisfaction.
The authors suggest that family mealtimes are opportunities for open family interactions which present teaching opportunities for parents to shape coping and positive health behaviors such as good nutritional choices, as well as enable adolescents to express concerns and feel valued, all elements that are conducive to good mental health in adolescents.
The results of this research are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The Canadian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study was part of a World Health Organization collaboration of 43 countries and was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
We are committed to providing high quality, healthful meals each day at a reasonable price. Even though we have had some federal mandates handed down from the United States Department of Agriculture that affect all nutrition programs across the nation, our menus are as hearty as ever. School lunch has been receiving a lot of negative press in the past year we wanted to take a moment to address your concerns and fears about what school lunch may look like for your children here in Pinedale.
SCSD#1’s nutrition staff is very passionate about serving healthy meals for kids and fostering healthy minds and bodies. We have been diligently working over the past ten plus years to improve our offerings, and still operate within the constraints of our budget, USDA commodities and use regulations, dietary guidelines, and foodservice industry product offerings. We do all this while juggling all the daily demands and pressures of daily operations of the nutrition programs, public scrutiny and serving kid friendly meals. We are delighted to announce that we are compliant with all the regulations without sacrificing quality or portion sizes.
Here’s what we offer:
- a wide variety of delicious entrees
- low-fat and fat free milk
- low-fat, trans-fat-free meals with less than 10% saturated fat and less than 30% overall fat per meal
- a colorful, wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
- a wide variety of whole grain offerings
- Legumes fixed in a variety of ways
We were initially concerned with the minimum and maximum number of proteins and grains and the maximum calories allowed for each grade level. After countless hours and a major overhaul on our menus and recipes we are pleased to announce that most portions will actually be larger than they have been before. Entrée sizes will be the same or larger. Fruit and vegetable servings will be larger. There will be legumes offered every week. Where you will see a difference is in the number of desserts offered and the amount of bread, biscuits or rolls offered each week. We have reformulated recipes to put the nutritional impact and calories into the main entrée.
We will continue to offer a variety of whole grains, buns, tortillas, rice pilafs, breadsticks and trying new grains such a quinoa with less frequency of whole grain bread slices, biscuits and rolls.
We will also be offering some new menu items to enhance our student’s palettes. We encourage students to try the new items. Even though students will have full sized portions of all menu items if they don’t eat the full portion, they may still be hungry.
Students at the middle school and high school will also have available for purchase: chef’s salads, fruit trays, veggie trays, yogurt parfaits and caramel apple trays, yogurt and granola, water and juice for those who may need a few extra calories to sustain them.
High school students will be able to purchase a wide variety of entrees and side offerings on their al a carte line.
Breakfast will have the same healthful offerings for this year.
With the Healthy, Hungry Free Kid act, USDA has now mandated that school districts charge at least the nationwide average for school meals. The average that they have listed as our target is $2.46 per meal. Our school board has worked hard these past several years to keep meal prices low to insure greater access to school meals for all families by investing some of our recapture money in the nutrition programs. We sincerely thank them for their wise investment into the health and nutritional well-being of our children through these low prices for the past several years. With these new mandates our hands are tied and we must now move toward the nationwide minimum. You will see our meal prices take an increase for this school year. Keep in mind that the free and reduced price meal program is available to families with qualifying incomes. Please call for help in filling out your application.
Our prices for this year will be:
Breakfast: $1.30 for Elementary and $1.55 for MS/HS Extra breakfast items will be $1.00 cents each. Breakfast is served daily from 7:45-8:00 at elementary and daily at the MS cafeteria for MS/HS students from 7:30-7:45.
Lunch: $2.25 for Elementary and $2.50 for MS/HS students.
Visit our website for serving times and menus. You can also view your student’s meal balance from the home page.
Come join us anytime to see for yourself that quality and service are not compromised here. Please call us by 8:30 so we can adequately prepare for our extra guests. 367-2828.
We embrace the challenge of change, learning, growing and making the best even better! We remain committed to providing only the highest quality food and service as we help nourish the future leaders of our homes, city, state and nation. Our self-service health bar empowers students to make healthy choices by seeing what daily healthy choices look like. We continue to promote learning by creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime!
For more detailed information click on the red "here" link above and go to the button on the home page that says "About Our Program".
We look forward to serving you and your students this year! Please don’t hesitate to call us at 367-2447 if you have any questions or concerns.
Delighted to Serve,
Gail Wilkerson Nutrition Program Director