Claim the food edge for Back to School

August 07, 2012

Supermarkets can excel throughout the academic year by helping families feed kids to fuel their successes in school.

The mad Back-to-School rush has begun. The focus once more is on apparel, technology and supplies at mass retailers, drug stores, wholesale clubs and specialty outlets.

Supermarkets that have only sought a convenience role during BTS season have been missing the bigger picture, in our view at The Lempert Report. Food is their obvious strength—and to millions of moms across the United States, the right foods are the essential fuel for the academic and social success of their children.  

By acting as the resource for nutritional and food knowledge—and not just a purveyor of food products—supermarkets can thrive well beyond BTS throughout the academic year. We suggest August is a great time to start acting like a proactive counselor on optimal ways to feed students breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks on school days. After all, kids face the stress to learn and perform in school—but moms (many dads, grandparents and older siblings too) feel the anxiety of preparing them well each day.

Why not launch a Tool Your Kids for Back to School program? Display catchy educational materials in-store and on the website to teach people about easily balancing a lunch with fruits, vegetables, grains, fluid milk and meat or meat alternatives. Adopt from the color-coding systems on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Meals Resource Center TEAM Nutrition web pages, and learn from success stories at different school districts on the Chefs Move to Schools website. Chain dietitians can host store tours that point out smart food choices for students, and also post videos on retail websites.  

Our own website has conveyed to shoppers and retail readers many tips about nutritionally smart breakfast, lunch and snack choices. A few of them:

  • Children need 45 to 130 protein grams per day, depending on age, gender and activity level. Aim for 20 grams at breakfast. Some choices: yogurt with granola or cereal, eggs with whole grain toast, or yogurt-based smoothies with oatmeal.  Protein keeps them feeling fuller and less hungry throughout the day.
  • Fresh fruit is convenient and accessible to kids any time of day, and is a protein-rich snack with low-fat cottage cheese or a couple of ounces of hard cheese.  Also try hummus with vegetables or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Nut butters make tasty sandwiches—and high-protein toppings for apple slices or whole-grain crackers.
  • Avocados are a rich source brain-boosting fats that satisfy appetites.