2/7/2013 Newsletter Articles:

February Parent Education Links

American Heart Month
Make exercise an important part of your family schedule by taking family walks after dinner or having a dance party in the living room. Some other easy tips to fit into your busy lives are to take the stairs instead of the elevator; vacuum briskly; park your car at the far end of the parking lot. Talk with your kids about eating a variety of colors, increasing the heart healthy whole grains per day, and limiting salt and sugar intakes. Check out the American Heart Association's webpage for more info, and for the warning signs of heart disease and heart attacks.  




Black History Month: As a family, learn about and recognize the contributions and history of African Americans.

Black History Month was the brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a respected African American scholar. Dr. Woodson's parents were newly freed slaves, and as a boy, Dr. Woodson worked in the coalmines of Kentucky to help support his family. Despite poverty, he was determined to become educated, and he eventually earned his doctorate from Harvard in 1912. Dr. Woodson spent much of his life working to bring the history of Black Americans to national awareness, so that Black History would find a respected place in our history books and understanding.    




National Children's Dental Health Month

Good dental health is important for all, and it is vital that parents help children establish good dental practices that last a lifetime. Tooth decay (dental caries) affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to problems; such as eating, speaking, playing, and learning. To avoid cavities, your children (and you!), should be brushing twice a day with toothpaste, flossing once a day, visiting the dentist regularly, and limiting sugary snacks and beverages. 





1/10/2013 Newsletter Articles:

School Lunch from Kris Christopherson, Parent Education Commissioner

Why is USDA setting new meal patterns and dietary specifications for school meals?

On December 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law Public Law 111-296, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). This historic legislation marked themost comprehensive changes to the school nutrition environment in more than a generation. The last update to school meals standards was over 15 years ago. Since that time, tremendous advancements in our understanding of human nutrition have occurred. In response to that reality, the HHFKA required USDA to update school meal nutrition standards to reflect the most current dietary science.

The timing of this legislation and USDA's standards are critically needed to help combat the epidemic of childhood obesity as well as the urgent problem of childhood hunger. Nearly 1 in 3 children are at risk for preventable diseases like diabetes and heart disease due to overweight and obesity. If left unaddressed, health experts tell us that our current generation of children may well have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

What are the main differences between the proposed and final rules?

The final rule makes significant improvements to school meals, while modifying several key proposed requirements to address public comments regarding cost, timing/implementation, food waste, and administrative burden. The final rule, in comparison to the proposed rule:

  • Phases-in changes to the breakfast program gradually over a three-year period
  • Does not require a meat/meat alternate at breakfast daily
  • Does not restrict starchy vegetables, and establishes weekly minimums for all
  • vegetable subgroups
  • Reduces the required weekly grains amounts at lunch
  • Allows students to take smaller portions of the fruits and vegetables components (at
  • least ½ cup of either) under Offer Versus Serve (OVS)
  • Provides an additional year for the implementation of the second sodium target
  • Requires State agencies to assess compliance with the new meal requirements based
  • on the review of one week of menus (instead of two weeks as proposed)
  • Allows schools to continue the current tomato paste crediting practice of crediting by
  • whole food equivalency.

To be sure, childhood obesity cannot be addressed by changes to school meals alone. The primary responsibility for instilling healthy eating habits in America's kids will always lie with parents, communities, and children themselves. But when spending taxpayer dollars on school meals, everyone has the responsibility to ensure all are supporting those efforts. School meals aree an important part of the solution, not just because they reach so many children every school day, but also because we know they can work. In fact, recent research by the esteemed Cochrane Collaboration has shown that school-based nutrition reforms- including improvements to school food--can help reduce levels of obesity. As directed byCongress under the HHFKA, USDA relied on the recommendations of experts like the Institute of Medicine- a gold standard for scientific analysis- as the basis for our standards. The result was updated, science-based standards, in which the portions of school meals are "right-sized" to reflect the age and dietary needs of the students served and the appropriate balance between food groups.  

More information: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/cnr_2010.htm 

9/11/2012 Newsletter Articles:

Money Matters from Lianne Loeks, MNPTA State Treasurer

Money Matter$ - September

What software is your group using to record its financial transaction and prepare the treasurer reports?   Looking at options but don't know what's out there? Not convinced that you really need it?

Why should your group use an online software? The most important reason is transparency. That means that the treasurer and the president (and any other officer) have access to the financial information at any time. The treasurer has full access, while the other officers have read only access. The second most important reason is continuity. If you have ever had a treasurer that has quit or hasn't turned over last year's records to the new treasurer, then you know that this is important. Online software easily transitions from one treasurer to the next with no loss of data.

Is treasurer software a typical administrative expense in our budget? Yes! It is just as important as liability insurance and training at state convention.

PTAEZ is a new online software created specifically for PTA groups. Not only does it record financial transactions and budgets, but it also tracks your membership list and helps you prepare your IRS 990. It is very affordable, with the annual price ranging from $79 - $219, depending on the size of your organization. My favorite feature is the online store. For just $30 per year, you can sell memberships, carnival tickets, yearbooks, spirit wear and accept donations in your store with PayPal. PTAEZ does everything except wash your car! For a free 30 day trial, go to www.ptaez.com.

Another online software option is MoneyMinder. It is easy to use but not as robust as PTAEZ. It is a very basic program, but gets the job done. It records financial transactions and budgets, prepares treasurer reports and has a 990 worksheet. MoneyMinder charges a flat annual fee of $149.00 and has a free 30 day trial. Check this one out at www.moneyminder.biz.

I know that many groups use QuickBooks or Excel. Both are great products. The down side of using these is the transparency and continuity. Every time you change treasurers, the data is lost because the treasurer probably owned the license to the software and it was installed on a personal PC at home where no one else had access to it. The same is true with Excel. Sound familiar?

I have used both PTAEZ and MoneyMinder so I know that they both work well. It is up to your group to find the solution that fits you best. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.


Parent Education from Kris Christopherson, MNPTA Parent Education Commissioner


Dartmouth University researchers studied the effects of exercise on the brains of teenagers and younger children and, not surprisingly, found that kids who exercise regularly have lower stress levels. But they also had better memories and were better able to learn and retain information than kids who exercised sporadically. They also noted that children suffering from ADHD responded to non-drug behavior-modification programs after being on regular exercise programs better than more sedentary children did.


When it works with your family's budget and time schedule, allow your children to choose activities that appeal to them, and are age appropriate. A good trick to get kids interested in exercise at a young age is to keep it fun. An important thing to keep in mind that spontaneous bouts of exercise throughout the day is actually the ideal way of doing it.

Your child does not need to log 30-60 minutes in the gym or in a specific exercise class, unless that's really what they want to do. A game of tag here, a bike ride there... Short bursts of activity with periods of rest in between-this is actually the way your body was designed to move! And kids will typically fall into this behavior quite spontaneously, as long as they're outdoors, and not cooped up in front of a TV or computer screen.

Ways to incorporate exercise into your busy schedules:

  • Be an example. Studies show that parents who exercise have children who exercise. Take your children out for walks, bike rides, throw a ball together, play tag.
  • Organized sports are a good way to make sure your kids get a consistent level of exercise
  • Household chores can be involved in household chores, especially the more physically active ones like yard work and gardening.
  • Walk or bike to school if distance is not an issue.


Resources for Open House/Membership Drive Ideas:


Resources for treasurers:

MN Attorney General's Office - http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Charities/GuideCharityLaws.asp

Money Matters Quick Reference Guide - http://www.pta.org/reference_guides.asp

IRS - http://www.irs.gov/charities/index.html?navmenu=menu1

MN Council of Nonprofits - http://www.minnesotanonprofits.org/nonprofit-resources/financial-management/financial-managment-resources-overview