FCS News August 23, 2021

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It’s Back to School Time

It’s that time of year when the school bus lights are flashing and the bells are ringing. It’s Back to School Time! New students, new teachers and lots of excitement! If your student takes lunch to school provide your child with the energy boost they will need mid-day by packing a healthy lunchbox that will provide the vitamins and nutrients they need to make it through the remainder of the school day. The formula is simple: fill half your plate (or lunch box) with colorful fruits or vegetables (aim for two to three different types), one-quarter with whole grains, and the remaining quarter with healthy proteins. Healthy fats and a small amount of,  dairy (if desired) round out a tasty meal that will fuel an active, healthy lifestyle.

When packing your child’s lunches, let the Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate guide and inspire you:
– Remember two points—choices and presentation
– Save time with meal prep
– Build super snacks to fill the gaps between meals
– Send a refillable water bottle


  1. Choose any 1 fresh fruit. For example: grapes, apple slices or rings, any melon chunks (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), any berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), or banana slices.
  2. Choose any 2 vegetables. For example: carrot coins or sticks, cucumber, broccoli, bell pepper strips, asparagus spears, summer squash ribbons, or grape tomatoes.
  3. Choose any 1 healthy protein. For example: Beans, edamame, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, hummus, veggie burger, roasted turkey or chicken slices, or a hardboiled egg.
  4. Choose any 1 whole grain. For example: whole grain pasta, bread, and crackers, brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oats, and other minimally-processed whole grains.
  5. Incorporating dairy (if desired). For example: unflavored milk, plain Greek yogurt, small amounts of cheese like cottage cheese, and string cheese. For dairy-free options, try soy milk and soy yogurt, which contain similar amounts of calcium, protein, and vitamin D as dairy milk.


  • Themes:

º Pizza = whole grain pita or crackers, grape tomatoes, and bell peppers, mozzarella string cheese, chicken slices.

º Green = edamame, cucumber coins, butter lettuce rolled in a spinach wrap spread with mashed ripe avocado. Sprinkle sunflower seeds or nuts for extra crunch and nutrients.

º Eat a Rainbow = red grape tomatoes, orange hummus, yellow cheese, green cucumbers and bell peppers, blueberries, purple grapes.

Save Time with Meal Prep
Amidst hectic weekday schedules, meal prep is a great tool to help keep us on a healthy eating track. Although any type of meal prep requires planning, there is no one correct method. Below are just a few ideas relevant to kid’s lunches, but you can learn more about using this helpful strategy for other meals, too!

  • Choose a day that you are less busy to wash and chop fruits and vegetables, and prepare batches of healthy proteins like chicken, eggs, and beans. If you don’t have time for this, don’t feel guilty about purchasing pre-chopped and washed produce, pre-cooked chicken, or canned beans in the supermarket (but be on the lookout for added sodium in prepared foods, and rinse and drain canned beans).
  • Have kids participate in food prep! Younger children can help to wash fruits and vegetables. Older children can learn how to use a knife on softer foods.
  • Have children pack their lunch boxes the night before. Display choices of protein, vegetable, fruit, etc. and let them create their own meals based on the Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate.
  • For younger children, include finger foods that do not need utensils.
  • Search “kids lunch ideas” online for endless inspiration on how to fill your child’s lunch box with healthy food.
  • If you’re not packing lunch, food provided by the school is also a great option, as a result of stronger standards.

Super Snacks

fruits and vegetables in bowlsSnacks are meant to fill the gap between meals, not become a whole meal in itself. Keep snacks small. An easy rule of thumb for a satisfying snack is to pair a protein-rich food with a carb-rich food. Including a healthy fat will quiet hunger pangs even more. Depending on the child’s age and activity level, they may need one or two snacks a day.


  • ¼ cup nuts, 1 cup shredded mini whole wheat squares (with no added sugar)
  • Apple slices, ½ cup chickpeas roasted in olive oil and spices [get the recipe!]

    The Nutrition Source >>

  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds or nuts, ¼ cup dried apricots, cherries, or raisins (with no added sugar)
  • String cheese, 1 cup of grapes
  • ½ cup blueberries or strawberries, 5 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
  • Peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter spread on a small 100% whole-wheat pita
  • Carrot sticks or sliced veggies, hummus

Go for Water
Don’t forget to pack a water bottle for refilling throughout the school day. Water is not only the best choice, but a necessary one. It restores fluids lost through everyday tasks of breathing, sweating, and even digesting meals. It keeps the body’s temperature normal on hot days and carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells. It is also free of calories, sugar, and caffeine, and other additives found in sugary drinks. Beyond plain water, flavored and unsweetened seltzer or fruit-infused waters are also great healthy beverage choices.

Healthy Kids and Healthy Families
When creating healthy and balanced meals for kids, don’t forget to do the same for the rest of the family. With a primary focus on diet quality, The Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate reflects the same important messages as the Healthy Eating Plate. Harvard School of Public Health -The Nutrition Source >>

Download both and post them on the refrigerator for a daily reminder to make the best eating choices!
Reference: The Nutrition Source  – Packing a Healthy Lunchbox

Dairy Soothes Bug Bites

Summer activities are meant to be fun, but the rise in insects brings unwelcome guests to summer picnics or well-planned camping trips. Bringing raised red skin of itchy bites, your mind isn’t focused on the day ahead when the bugs begin biting. Don’t let the summer bug bites ruin summer plans. Make sure that whatever your plans are for the day, the milk is nearby to save the day’s fun. Soothe bug bites with these simple dairy remedies.

Milk can help relieve the itchy, burning feeling of sunburn, a rag soaked in milk helping cool the aggravated skin, but that’s not all it can do to help your skin. Milk can also ease the itch of bug bites.

Bug bites are an annoying side effect from enjoying the great outdoors. Whether you forgot the bug spray, or you need extra help from the insects that find your blood irresistible, bug bites are an irritating part of life that we’d all like to avoid. Thankfully, adding milk to those pesky bites can help reduce the irritation.

Using the milk for sunburn relief trick, simply douse a rag or cotton ball in milk and apply it to the affected area. If the bug bites are all over your body, add milk or powdered milk to the tub and soak. Milk baths are wrapped in the legend of ancient beauties and their skincare routines, so in addition to easing your itchy bug bites, you may be helping your skin too.

Another way is to create a paste by combining powdered milk with water. Applying the paste to bug bites will bring relief for those on-the-go, perfect for kids itching to get back outside (pun intended).

With this trick useful for sunburn and bug bite relief, applying milk to irritated skin is a good go-to for dry skin or an accidental run-in with poison oak or poison ivy. Using milk as a cheap and natural treatment for irritated skin from summer activities is a great way to find relief.

Reference: The Dairy Alliance

Supporting Your Child’s Transition Back to School

Back to school means new teachers, subjects, and classmates, as well as a chance for kids to start fresh after a restful summer off. And while the start of any school year can provoke a level of anxiety for students, the return to in-person learning after over a year of virtual or hybrid schooling models can be nerve-wracking or expose signs of separation anxiety.
During this transition, it’s important to acknowledge your child’s anxieties and set them up for a successful return to the classroom. Here at Atrius Health, we’ve thought of a few ways that parents can help support their kids at the start of the school year.

Have Honest, Supportive Conversations
Often, when children are feeling stressed, they want to feel like their concerns have been heard and acknowledged. If you notice that your child is displaying signs of anxiety about returning to school, talk with them about their fears in a safe, non-judgmental space. Allowing your child to talk through their concerns, instead of keeping them bottled up, will help you learn how to best support your child and bring you closer together.

Stay Up to Date on School Announcements
Another way to make the transition back to school easier for students is to be aware of important dates, events and deadlines before the school year approaches. Take the time to review emails and documents shared by your school district to avoid feeling unprepared or rushed when deadlines arise. This is especially important if your child plays a sport or is interested in joining an extracurricular activity during the school year, because they may require you to submit proof of a yearly physical or require a summer sign-up period. And as we start this school year with rising COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant, you should be on the lookout for emails from the school district communicating new or shifting COVID-19 protocols.
If your child is younger or entering a new school, look out for any potential “open house” events, where families can tour the school, meet their new teachers, and learn more about how things run on a daily basis. Familiarizing your child with their new environment can often ease feelings of stress and demystify this new experience.

Emphasize COVID-19 Safety Protocols
While fewer kids have been infected by COVID-19 than adults, children can still catch and spread the virus. The CDC recommends that all children ages 12 and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves and others from infection. And while district and state guidance may vary, the CDC recommends that all students wear a mask while in school, regardless of vaccination status.
Be sure to discuss COVID-19 protocols and personal hygiene with your child in a way that is age appropriate and easy to understand. This reduces the potential for confusion and helps your child feel safe entering the new school year. You can also discuss an after-school routine that includes thorough hand washing and sanitizing items like phones, pencil cases and other frequently touched items.

Get Them Involved and Establish a Routine
Along with speaking positively about the return to school, involve your child in exciting activities to mark the start of the school year. Shopping for school supplies and clothing are fun – and traditionally normal – things that you can do with your child to instill self-confidence and a feeling of independence.

Establishing and encouraging a routine is also key for ensuring a smooth transition from hybrid or virtual learning to in-person learning, as it allows you to set clear expectations for your child. Many of our lives were disrupted by the pandemic, leading to a change in schedules and habits, which can feel scary and unfamiliar. Creating a routine for your child to follow can help them quickly learn what to expect on a daily basis so they feel more prepared to take on the day.

For younger children, expectations of age-appropriate nighttime chores, consistent bedtimes and other tasks can help your child feel in control of their days. For older children, empower them to make good choices on their own. Sending subtle yet consistent cues can help them feel in control of their own schedule. For example, if “homework time” is after dinner, consider sitting with your child as they complete their schoolwork rather than turning on the TV or hopping on your phone. Not only will this minimize distractions, but it also allows you to be more present in your child’s everyday life.
It is normal for kids to feel some level of jitters or stress as the long-anticipated return to school draws closer. For many kids, these feelings will be temporary, but checking in with your child and their provider opens the conversation to ease back-to-school anxieties.
Reference: Atrius Health –Transition Back to School

Does Your Pressure Canner Gauge Need Testing?

pressure canner gaugeYour pressure canner gauge should be tested every year for accuracy before you begin to preserve foods for the season. Call (919-496-3344) or email (dominque_simon@ncsu.edu) to schedule an appointment for your FREE canner gauge test.