School cafeteria lunches are starting to improve in both taste and nutrition. Most lunch programs provide enough calories, carbohydrates and proteins, and milk, but often school lunches are too high in fat and lack fruit, vegetables, and fiber.
Children who have choices may choose the higher fat items and skip vegetables. Go through the menus with your child. Teach your kids about healthy foods and making good choices.
Buying a monthly lunch pass can save you time, cost less, and be healthier than the vending machine or fast food items that many kids choose. It can work well if your children eat in the cafeteria some days, bring lunch from home other days, and sometimes use lunch money to make their own choices.
Packing lunches can seem like too much work or take too much time, especially when you're in a rush. With a bit of planning and by following the tips below, you'll be surprised how easy putting together a healthy and tasty school lunch can be.
Your kids will have fun making their lunches tasty and healthy. Use plastic sandwich bags, plastic containers, and colorful wrap. You don't have to pack a sandwich. Instead you could send:
Many lunch boxes come with a cold pack so that you can safely pack milk and other items that need to stay cold. If you are a working parent, preparing lunches the night before can really help during the morning time crunch. If you save leftovers that your child would enjoy, put them in single-serving containers. That way they can go right into the lunch box.
School districts around the country are working to ban sodas and other "high-fat, high-sugar" fast foods and snacks in schools. The amount of salt, sugar, and fat in breakfasts and lunches served at many schools is also being reviewed.
Many states have laws that limit or ban trans fat in foods served in schools. This includes vending machines.
Getting rid of the vending machines and fast food isn't a simple decision. The sale of these products often fund specific school programs or are a big part of the school's revenue. However, many kids eat too many calories, too much fat, and gain extra weight. Encourage your PTA to work with local vendors to offer healthier choices.