Back to School Lunches

August is Back to School Month which means it is time to make the decision if you want to pack your child’s lunch or feed them what the school provides. Each option has many considerations and health benefits. Packing a lunch provides an opportunity to be selective and creative with your child while packing a nutritious meal. “USDA’s federal school lunch program has updated its guidelines to make school lunches more nutritious, varied, and appealing”, which is nutritiously beneficial, but could also be more costly (Linnell-Olsen, 2020). Many schools have free or reduced lunch which is something to take in mind when making your decision. 

Other considerations when making your decision to pack a lunch or use school lunch, is food safety. If packing a lunch it should be kept below 40 degrees until lunch time. Consider using an insulated lunch box with ice packs or choose school lunch. Another thing to think about is the daily routine of packing a lunch. If your child is old enough this is a simple task they can accomplish. Consider making a specific time for your child to pack their lunch or prepare a whole week of lunches ahead of time to save time during the week. 

Get your kids involved with the decision. Look through the school lunch menus ahead of time to help children make healthful decisions. If you decide to pack a lunch, give your children some options of lunches they can pack such as cracker sandwiches, wraps, and a variety of fruits and vegetables (Eat Right Pro, 2018). Involving your child in the process will make them informed and excited about their nutritious lunches. 

Each of these options are healthy choices. Whether it be school lunch or packed lunch, whatever lunch works best for your family is the right decision. 

By Emily Maus- University of Idaho Dietetic Student (2020)

Eat Right Pro. (August, 2020). During Kids Eat Right Month, Academy Recommends Partens, Kids Team Up for Healthful Lunches. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightpro.org/media/press-releases/kids-eat-right-month/back-to-school-kids-eat-right

Linnell-Olsen, L. (September, 2020). Is School or Packed Lunch Right for Your Family? Very Well Family. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/school-lunch-vs-packed-lunch-4065361

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