Do you think the lunches you pack for your child from home are healthier than the lunches provided at school? Because of the most recent overhaul of the National School Lunch Program, Roberto A. Ferdman doesn’t think so:
A new study carried out by researchers at Virginia Tech concluded that preschoolers and kindergartners tend to eat healthier lunches when the food is chosen by their school, not their parents. The study, which surveyed more than 1,300 lunches at three schools in Virginia, found that parents frequently pack things like chips, sweets, and sugary drinks—all of which are not allowed under the National School Lunch Program.
It’s one thing to serve kids a healthy lunch, says Barbara Mantel, but another to get them to eat it:
While nearly 7 out of 10 school kids put a vegetable on their lunch trays, only about half of them took even one bite of it, according to a new study of 274 kindergarteners through second-graders at 10 New York City public schools.
Last year, researchers estimated that more than $1.2 billion of food provided through the National School Lunch Program was thrown in the garbage. Mantel examines a study that points the way to more acceptance of healthy foods and less waste in school cafeterias:
These young students were much more likely to finish their veggies when the cafeteria was quieter and to consume more of all their food if a teacher ate with them in the cafeteria, the lunch period was longer, and their food was cut up.
“If you’re a first-grader and you’ve recently lost most of your teeth, it’s very hard to eat a whole apple,” says Gross.
Pediatric Alliance dietician Joan Avolio has some school lunch and snack ideas here.
More suggestions from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook here.