Allowing students to eat vegetables and fruit in class in the morning or afternoon helps students to re-fuel during the gap between breakfast and morning tea, or between lunch and afternoon tea. These are the times that children's attention can start to wane in class.The Crunch&Sip break also gives children the opportunity to eat the vegetable sticks that might otherwise be left in their lunchbox and not be eaten at all. This not only helps to improve physical and mental performance, it promotes long term health as well!
- Have the break during a read aloud, silent reading or daily news telling
- Participate in Crunch&Sip during a transition time between lessons (for example, students grab their Crunch&Sip as they come in from fitness or between English and maths lessons). This is usually a break from learning anyway with students moving around the room. Students can continue to eat their Crunch&Sip as they are given instructions for the next lesson.
- Teachers may choose to have set time throughout the school if a learning block is particularly long
Children are often told to eat more (or any!) fruit and vegetables because they are "good for you". But what are the real benefits for children in eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables every day?
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES CONTAIN NUTRIENTS FOR GOOD HEALTH
Dietary fibre found in fruit and vegetables helps keep the bowel healthy and prevent constipation. Constipation is a common problem, with up to one child in three having problems going to the toilet. Vegetables, fruit, water and regular exercise all help to make children - and adults - more regular.
Vegetables and fruit contain essential vitamins and minerals. For example, citrus fruits (orange, mandarin, and grapefruit), kiwifruit, broccoli and sprouts are good sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of body tissues such as skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It also increases the absorption of iron from plant foods, and promotes wound healing.
BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND FUNCTION
Many of the nutrients found in fruit and vegetables are important for brain function. Good brain function means good cognition, and this helps learning. A daily Crunch&Sip break is a great way to increase fruit and vegetable intake, support brain development and function, and promote learning.
Research suggests that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables reduces your chance of becoming overweight or obese. When children consume the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables, this can displace foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt. Along with physical inactivity, overconsumption of low nutrient/high energy foods is a key risk factor for becoming overweight or obese.
The proportion of children carrying excess weight has more than doubled in the last 30 years, with one in four Western Australian children now considered overweight or obese.
LONG TERM HEALTH
Consuming the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and some cancers. These chronic lifestyle diseases represent a significant proportion of the burden of disease in Australia today.
IT'S GOOD FOR DENTAL HEALTH
Choosing fresh fruit and vegetables over processed foods high in sugar can reduce the incidence of dental caries (decay). Crunching firm fruit and vegetables can stimulate the flow of saliva. Saliva contains protective components that fights bacteria and helps protect against decay. While choosing fresh fruit and vegetables can help, remember that regularly brushing your teeth is still the most important strategy for protecting your teeth!
DEVELOP HEALTHY EATING PATTERNS FOR LIFE
Children who have opportunities to explore, taste, cook and grow fruit and vegetables are more likely to have favourable attitudes towards these foods. These healthy food habits developed in childhood can persist into adulthood.
It is important to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Include raw and cooked, and many different colours. The amount of fruit and vegetables recommended depends on age, appetite and activity levels.
The recommended daily intakes of fruit and vegetables for children and adolescents are:
|Age of child (years)||Fruit (serves)||Vegetables (serves)|
WHAT IS A SERVE OF VEGETABLES?
One serve of vegetables is 75 grams. This is equal to 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or legumes, or 1 cup of raw salad vegetables.
WHAT IS A SERVE OF FRUIT?
One serve of fruit is 150 grams. This is equal to one medium piece of fruit, two smaller pieces of fruit, or 1 cup of chopped or canned fruit.
See The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating for more information.
The first step is to try and find out why.
If students are simply forgetting, try some of the following:
- Remind students at the end of each day to bring in Crunch&Sip the next day
- Send a letter home to parents
- Place a reminder in the newsletter
- Prompt students to remember by getting them to record their participation each day.
- Send free parent reminders home with children.
If students are reluctant to get involved or say they don't like fruit and vegetables, try:
- Being a role model. Children are more likely to try fruit and vegetables if they see adults eating them
- Create excitement and enthusiasm during the Crunch&Sip break time
- Hold special Crunch&Sip events. For example, provide students with pieces of different fruit and vegetables to make an edible sculpture
- Include gardening or cooking lessons to encourage a positive attitude towards fruit and vegetables
Some students may not have access to fruit and vegetables each day, particularly in lower socio-economic areas. Before signing up to the Crunch&Sip program, schools must identify strategies to provide fruit or vegetables to students that are unable to bring these from home. Strategies should be relevant to the local situation and meet the specific needs of the school community. Some ideas other schools have used include:
- Provide vegetables and fruit at cost price to disadvantaged students through the school canteen
- Employ the same strategy used for children who forget their lunch money i.e. students can order vegetables or fruit and parents reimburse the canteen
- Allocate school budget or school committee (e.g. P&C/P&F) funds to the purchasing of fruit and vegetables
- Grow your own. Plant fruit trees or vegetable gardens on school property to provide an ongoing supply
- Liaise with local Aboriginal student support organisations to assist Aboriginal students
- Ask local growers or stores for sponsorship
- Contact Foodbank WA to access fruit and vegetables through the School Breakfast Program. Go to Foodbank WA's School Breakfast Program for more information
No. Foods such as muesli bars and fruit leathers can be high in sugar and have a tendency to stick to teeth. Eating sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay. It is best to limit sugar intake to meal times when the increased saliva flow provides a cleansing action - helping to protect teeth.
The sugars found in fresh fruit and vegetables are safe for teeth. Although dried fruits, such as sultanas and dried apricots, contain natural sugars, the sugars are more concentrated than in fresh fruit and these foods tend to cling to teeth. This can increase the risk of tooth decay. Although dried fruit is permitted, it is not recommended. Fresh fruit or vegetables are the best choice.
No. The idea is to eat fresh fruit or vegetables and drink water. Water is the only drink allowed in the classroom.
Fresh fruit and vegetables have more fibre, vitamins and minerals than fruit juice. Since there is no fibre in fruit juice, and because it is in a liquid form, it does not fill you up as much as whole fruit and vegetables.
Did you know that you would need to process up to 6 oranges to get just one glass of juice? That is more than you could eat in one sitting!
No. Grazing between meals can lead to weight gain and tooth decay and promotes unhealthy snacking habits. Having a set time for Crunch&Sip allow students to re-fuel between main meals. Consuming Crunch&Sip during a set time also allow teachers to more effectively monitor what foods are being eaten in the classroom.
Many teachers report that grazing is more disruptive. Students may choose inappropriate times to eat their fruit and veg and it can mean that some students do not participate as it is not seen as compulsory. Other students may eat excessive amounts because they see it as a way of avoiding work.
Research has found that children prefer small, cold, crisp, juicy and sweet fruits and colourful, crisp, fresh vegetables. Try the following tips to encourage children to enjoy fruit and vegetables:
- Buy a variety of seasonal fresh fruit so children don't become bored
- Involve children in choosing what fruit and vegetables to buy
- Cut fruit and vegetables into small manageable pieces
- Be a role model. Let your kids see you eating and enjoying vegetables, fruit and water.
- Give children multiple opportunities to try new foods. Children need to be offered a new food a number of times. If they say they don't like something after a first taste, don't take it off the menu straight away.
- Get the kids growing vegetables and herbs. If children are involved in the growing of herbs and vegetables, they are more likely to try eating them.
- Get the whole family preparing vegetables and fruit for family meals. This helps kids become more familiar with them, and they're more likely to try something they've prepared. Even young children can get involved by tearing up lettuce!
- Make vegetables and fruit easy to see. Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. Prepare some vegetable sticks and keep them in a container at the front of the fridge at children's eye level.
Did you know that our bodies are made up of 50-60% water? Water lost each day through breathing, sweating and going to the toilet needs to be replaced, especially in hot weather.
Adequate fluid intake is essential to good health. Not drinking enough fluid causes dehydration; this can lead to negative effects such as headaches, irritability, and a reduced ability to concentrate. By the time a person is thirsty they are already becoming dehydrated.
Children rarely drink enough during break times at school and often forget to drink unless reminded. Allowing and reminding students to drink water in class increases the likelihood that they will drink more.
Drinking often, especially before, during and after physical activity, is the best way to stay hydrated.
The recommended daily amounts of fluid for children and adolescents are:
- 5 cups (1.2 litres) for 4 - 8 year olds
- 5-6 cups (1.4-1.6 litres) for 9 - 13 year olds
- 6-8 cups (1.6-1.9 litres) for 14 - 18 year olds
* A cup is 250 ml
More water is needed if children are exercising or sweating due to heat.
It is important that children are encouraged to drink water all year round. Dehydration does not only occur during the hot months of the year. Children can experience dehydration in the winter if they do not consume the recommended amount of water each day.
Water bottles can be any clean, clear bottle (e.g. an empty juice, cordial or water bottle). Adding water bottles to the annual book list will remind parents to supply water bottles.
If you feel that the cost of purchasing water bottles to participate in Crunch&Sip would be prohibitive for parents, please get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For schools who meet certain eligibility criteria, we may be able to provide assistance with the cost of purchasing water bottles for students.
Transparent bottles will minimise this risk and regular spot checks can be made. Involving pupils from the outset and regularly promoting the benefits of water will also help.
Some teachers worry that students will need to go to the toilet a lot more when they are drinking extra water in class. Whilst this might happen initially, it should settle down after a couple of weeks. For most of us, the bladder soon adjusts to cope with a larger intake, usually within a few weeks. Some schools have found that the number of toilet visits decrease as children no longer need to ask to go the toilet to get a drink.
The other thing to remember is that the benefits of drinking enough water far outweigh a few extra toilet breaks. Why not try scheduling a couple of extra toilet breaks during the day where students can also take the opportunity to stretch their legs.
The question about what is the best and safest water to drink often worries parents and teachers. The answer depends on where you live. Generally tap water from the mains/community supply is safe to drink without further treatment. Tap water in many places contains fluoride, which helps protect children's teeth.
Rainwater is only as safe as the roof from which it is collected and generally it is wise to boil for young children.
Some examples include:
- Let children see you enjoying drinking water. Ensure children have their own individual water bottles, smaller bottles of about 300ml - 500ml are best suited for younger children.
- Serve water icy cold!
- For school, freeze water in bottles to send to school.
- At home, always keep a jug or bottle of cold water in the fridge and serve with ice. Try floating a slice of lemon, orange or some strawberries in a jug of water.
To minimise mess during Crunch&Sip breaks:
- Encourage students to bring classroom friendly fruit and veg (e.g. a whole orange will create a mess and might be more appropriate for recess or lunch). If specific fruit and veg are found to be a problem, teachers can ban these foods from being brought in for Crunch&Sip.
- Set up and follow a set Crunch&Sip time rather than allowing students to graze throughout the day.
- Ask for fruit or vegetable to be cut and sent in a sealed container
- Ask parents to provide a laminated or rubber place-mat or hand wipes
To prevent water spillage on desks:
- Allocate space at the side of the classroom for water bottles. Alternatively, water bottles can be placed on the floor next to each desk. Make sure that students can still easily access water bottles during the day.
- Sports caps minimise spillage
- Place frozen bottles in a clear plastic bag to minimise mess as they thaw. Better still, provide students with chilled water for refilling water bottles as required.
Following a few simple rules will ensure that Crunch&Sip breaks are conducted in a hygienic manner:
- Bottles should be washed daily in warm soapy water and left to dry upside down
- Children should be discouraged from sharing bottles
- Bottles should be clearly named with a permanent marker or washable label and re-marked regularly to avoid bottles becoming mixed up. Upon certification, schools are sent a supply of Crunch&Sip water bottle stickers and are able to order more of these as needed.
- Before Crunch&Sip time, children should wash their hands
- Parents should be encouraged to wash fruit and vegetables sent in for the Crunch&Sip break
- If sticky hands are a concern, have wet wipes available or ask for parents to send in cut-up vegetables and fruit with a spoon or fork
Teachers have found that any initial silliness soon vanishes. Involving children from the outset in planning will encourage ownership and responsibility.
Concerns are sometimes raised that children will fiddle with bottles or suck on or chew caps during lessons. Some students may do so but these are the children who would otherwise only have fiddled with something/somebody else! They may be kinaesthetic learners who actually benefit from fiddling with a bottle as they listen.
We've simplified our certification process into 3 easy steps:
- Nominate a Crunch&Sip Coordinator
- Download and complete the certification checklist and take the pledge
- Fill in the online application form.
After your certification has been approved, we will send you out a resource pack including a fence sign, framed school certificate, apple slinky machine, stickers, tally chart, desk mats, and the Crunch&Sip rap!
Firstly, don't give up! Many Crunch&Sip schools started with only one keen staff member or parent taking the lead. A single teacher starting Crunch&Sip in their classroom can move the whole school towards becoming a Crunch&Sip school. Try to enlist the help of other key people in the school. Remember, sometimes these things take time.
If Crunch&Sip is running in your classroom, but your school is not a certified Crunch&Sip school, you can apply to become a registered classroom. Other teachers have found that by registering their classroom, Crunch&Sip can spread to the rest of the school.