in a minute
Earlier this week saw the results from a study at leeds university published in the bmj open on the quality of school packed lunches. in summary the authors reported that just 2% of packed lunches meet the nutrition standards as used for school meals.
from my own work experience of visiting schools and working with local authorities to review the school food offer, the reasons why parents provide packed lunches and the challenges in improving the quality of children’s packed lunches are in depth and varied. parents may look back with despair to their own bad experience of school food. in which case it’s useful to diminish any preconceived ideas and for a school to invite parents and children to try school food to set a positive scene at the beginning of the school experience. a packed lunch can be a solution for those parents concerned about their children who are daunted by unfamiliar foods and the dining room experience (and so eat a limited amount), and this is where the language used by kitchen staff is so important and shouldn’t be coercive or intimidating.
whatever the reason, if you are providing a packed lunch make sure it contains a portion of starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, so think bread (or wraps, pitta, bagels, etc), pasta or rice. include 1-2 portions of fruit and vegetables, which is varied often to maximise the range of nutrients in the diet. include a portion of protein food, such as beans, pulses, eggs, fish or meat. then finally add a portion of dairy food important for strong bones such as cheese or unsweetened yoghurt.
best drink options are water or milk, and children should have easy access to water fountains whilst at school.
either way lunchtime should be an opportunity to get children eating a variety of different foods, fruit and vegetables in a balanced meal and offer the chance to socially interact with others at the dining table on a daily basis, when they may not have the chance to do so at home so often.
this image was me yesterday with my working from home lunch! does your child take a packed lunch or are you happy with the school food offer? would love any feedback! x