Next time you are packing your child's school lunch, ask them what they want to eat. It is important to be firm and make sure that the majority of it is healthy but also to compromise a smidgen in the supermarket. Try taking the day off on Friday as a reward to yourself and your child and pack lunch money!
A Answers (6)
Boston Women's Health Book Collective, answered
Grassroots efforts nationwide are promoting more nutritious school lunches. One way to influence the selection of foods offered in your child's school is to become involved in school activities, and to advocate for healthy foods at school events, fundraisers, and in vending machines. Some schools have found that implementing healthier nutrition policies reduces behavior problems and improves academic performance.
Find out more about this book:Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era
Deborah Beauvais, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
As a Registered Dietitian that oversees the school meal programs at two different public schools, I encourage you to come have lunch with your child and really see what your school is serving the students.
School lunch or breakfast is not the same as it was 10 years ago let alone what it was like when many of today's parents were in school. So much of what is thought about this valuable program is fueled by people's perception and not what is really being offered in the school cafeteria.
So many schools are stepping up the menus to include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lowfat and even vegetarian entrees, and a variety of food items that offer students great choices to fill their lunch tray. "Snack Foods" too are being evaluated and many are no longer being offered in the lunch line or in vending machines.
Many schools no longer have deep fat fryers and have reverted to scratch cooking for a variety of their items. Milk offered is low-fat and fat-free including flavored milks as well.
If you do not discover these changes in your child's school meal program, inquire about the school's wellness policy and committee. This is a great first place to get involved. Meet with the School Nutrition Program Director and inquire about the menu and the offerings. Is the school part of the National School Lunch Program or not. Schools that receive funding from the government are held to strict nutrition standards whereas other private schools that do not participate in the federal program are not held to any regulations and can serve whatever they would like.
A great resource to learn about school meal best practices and other great info about school nutrition programs is www.traytalk.com and also the School Nutrition Association in your state or nationally.
Serena Rain , NASM Elite Trainer, Fitness, answered
The best way for you to ensure your child has a healthy lunch is to send one from home. However, if you’re interested in making an impact on your child’s school lunch program, the best way to make a difference is to get involved. There are a lot of people, across the nation, working together to get healthier foods into our schools. With your participation, you can make a difference locally. Here are some great links with specific tips on how you can get involved.
Marilyn Ricci, M.S., R.D., Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
The school lunch meal pattern minimum amounts are 1 cup of low fat milk, 2 oz protein, 3/4 cup of fruit and/or vegetables (must be 2 different foods), and 1 slice of bread/pasta/etc. (8 per week). This pattern is very healthful. However, french fries could be the vegetable, and white bread could be the bread. New meal pattern guidelines will be out next year that will require more healthful choices within the pattern.
Encourage your school food service director to include a variety of foods in each category, especially the fruit and vegetable items so more students will take these foods. Because most students have very little time to eat, foods should be ready to eat, for example apples and oranges cut. Encourage nutrition education in the classroom and in programs for parents. The school food service cannot change student's eating habits by itself.
Children are faced with many food options while in school. Hot lunch, vending machines, friends' foods, and then of course....what you send with them. It is very important to recognize that children spend a large quantity of their time at school and eat 1-2 meals there 5 days per week. Therefore, to ensure that you child is eating nutritious foods while at school, it is important to educate them. Talk to your child about healthy options and why some foods are better choices than others. Discuss health and what it means to be healthy and strong. Relate proper nutrition to performance in school, sports, or whatever interests them. When possible, send a sack lunch with the child to ensure that healthy options are available. If this isn't feasible, make sure to familiarize yourself with your child's school's lunch options and discuss which ones might be the most nutritious choice.