Stop and Shop

Summer is almost over and millions of parents and kids are gearing up for those three dreaded words - back- to-school. To help everyone get back into the swing of their school year routine, Stop & Shop is providing tips for preparing delicious and nutritious lunches the kids will enjoy.

According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity among children aged six to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. By establishing healthy eating habits early parents can help reduce the risk of their child becoming obese and developing related diseases later in life.

"It's important that kids learn how to pack a healthy lunch so that they make smart, nutritious decisions about what they put in their bodies," said Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Stop & Shop. "Getting kids involved at the store and encouraging them to explore healthy foods in the produce, bakery and deli departments can be a great way to instill good eating habits early on."

Shoppers can defer to Stop & Shop's Healthy Ideas symbol which appears on more than 5,000 items and shelf tags throughout the store. The Healthy Ideas symbol denotes foods that meet the USDA/FDA's definition of "healthy," the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid.gov.

Items bearing the Healthy Ideas symbol have less fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and are a good source of at least one nutrient (protein, fiber, vitamins A or C, or the minerals calcium or iron).

Pack a healthy lunch the kids will love by following the tips below:

Find Finger Foods - Visit the produce department. Allow kids to select small-sized or finger fruits like grapes and pre-cut veggies like mini-carrots for their lunchbox. While you're there see if they can spy Stop & Shop's new mini cucumbers and apples, a sure fire hit for little hands.

Taste the Flavor - Visit the deli counter and encourage kids to sample a slice of Stop & Shop's great-tasting deli items like low-fat turkey or chicken breast. Let them pick their favorites and stock-up for the week.

Opt for Baked, Not Fried - 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 -  fun-shaped waffle pretzel squares, vegetable sticks, baked chips, low-fat crackers and popcorn are perfect sides for the lunchbox.

Add a Splash of Color - Visit the bakery and bread aisle, so kids can choose colorful wraps or mini whole-wheat pita pockets or small rolls.

For more ideas, back-to-school tips and information about Stop & Shop's School Tour Program visit www.stopandshop.com. Shoppers are also encouraged to visit Stop & Shop's new online site for moms, www.smallvictories.com.