September 8, 2008

Think Outside the Lunchbox

QUINCY, Mass., Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- School bells around the country are ringing, signaling the end of summer and the start of the new school year. Once again parents will be faced with the daily task of packing a lunch that tastes good and provides the essential nutrition and energy their children need. To inspire parents to take a fresh look at lunch, Stop & Shop is offering a variety of simple, nutritious tips that parents and kids are sure to enjoy.

While most schools offer the option of purchasing a lunch from school, many children opt for bagged lunches. According to a survey conducted by the American Dietetic Association and the ConAgra Foods Foundation, a majority of students (83 percent) bring their lunch at least one or two times a week and 55 percent "brown bag it" up to five times a week.

"Packing a lunch at home is one way parents can feel confident their children are eating healthy at school," said Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Stop & Shop. "I encourage packing school lunches, especially if you question whether nutritionally balanced school meals are offered, or whether your children will make nutritionally sound choices." This is becoming increasingly important as the number of overweight and obese children and adolescents grows each year. According to the American Obesity Association, childhood obesity has more than doubled over the last 25 years and quadrupled among adolescents.

Cutting back on the sugary, high-fat and high-sodium foods frequently offered in school cafeterias and vending machines and carefully selecting what goes into bagged lunches will help keep children healthy and fit. "Today, parents are more aware than ever of the critical role they play in developing the nutrition habits of their children. For that reason, they prefer to pack lunches themselves so they know the nutritive value their children are receiving," said Astrachan.

Inspired by its own fresh new look, Stop & Shop is inspiring parents to consider fun, healthy lunch alternatives. While pre packaged meals, snacks and sweets are quick, easy fillers for lunchboxes, parents should consider the following fresh ideas:

   -- Pack pre-cut veggies like mini-carrots, with a small cup of veggie dip      or low-fat dressing.    -- Select small-sized fruits or serve fruit in different ways, like      individual-sized fruit cups and applesauce cups.    -- Offer some of the crunchy, fun, but less fattening alternatives found      in Stop & Shop's snack aisle, like fun-shaped waffle pretzel squares,      baked chips, bread sticks and low-fat crackers.    -- Help kids get their "3-A-Day" of Dairy at lunchtime with low-fat      cheese, low-fat yogurt and string cheese.    -- Give kids a do-it-yourself project by sending granola, trail mix,      cereal or fruit as a lunchtime stir-in to yogurt, applesauce and      cottage cheese.    -- Use last night's leftovers. Pack strips of grilled chicken with honey      mustard dipping sauce or quesadilla slices with chicken and cheese (or      veggies and cheese).    -- Choose whole grain bread, a colorful spinach or tomato wrap or a      whole-wheat pita pocket instead of plain white bread and get creative!       -- Make an "on-the-go" burrito by wrapping salsa, low-fat shredded         cheese, black beans and chicken strips (optional) in a tortilla (the         precooked, precut variety of chicken breast makes it a snap for         time-starved parents).       -- Stuff a whole-wheat pita pocket with Romaine lettuce, chicken strips         and low-fat ranch dressing for a quick and easy chicken-Caesar         pocket.    -- A small cup of peanut butter is a perfect dip for apple slices and      spread for rice cakes.    -- Make Bat Boys -- Spread a thin round of deli-sliced low-fat ham with      mayonnaise or mustard and sprinkle with low fat shredded cheddar      cheese. Place a sesame breadstick or pretzel rod on one edge and roll      up tightly. [3-A-Day/Cabot Cheese "Bat Boy" Healthy Snack recipe].    -- Pack a small serving of nuts such as cashews, peanuts, almonds and      pecans.    

"Stop & Shop has been helping parents pack healthy lunches for nearly 100 years," added Astrachan. "We're excited to offer these tips and hope parents will continue to look to Stop & Shop as a resource for fresh and affordable ideas."

Parents interested in wallet-friendly natural and organic snacks should try Stop & Shop's own product line, Nature's Promise, a selection of healthy, organic and all natural varieties, free of artificial colors and flavors and hydrogenated oils. Ingredients, as well as nutrient and health information, including fat-free, sugar-free or gluten, lactose, egg and nut allergies are clearly listed with easy-to-read icons on the product packaging. For more tips or information about Nature's Promise and the variety of new offerings at Stop & Shop, visit

Stop & Shop

CONTACT: Faith Weiner of Stop & Shop, +1-617-770-6025,[email protected]

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