There's a whole lot of talk about getting soda and fast food out of schools. And about improving school lunches, even as most schools are needing to cut funds or cut the lunch program altogether, which is what happened to 46 schools in two counties of central Texas. When this happens, parents have no choice but to pack their children's lunch.
Are parents doing any better for getting out the junk and providing a nutritious meal?
No, according to the recent study "Do Sack Lunches Provided by Parents Meet the Nutritional Needs of Young Children Who Attend Child Care?," by Sara J. Sweitzer, MEd, RD; Margaret E. Briley, PhD, RD; and Cindy Robert-Gray, PhD.
Findings from the study for the closed schools found that the parent-packed lunches failed to provide adequate nutrition to meet recommended daily intake for several nutriets.
- 96 percent of lunches failed to provide even a third of the needed fiber
- 71 percent did not meet requirements for fruit and vegetables
- 80 percent did not meet requirements for calcium and dairy, fruit juices were packed instead.
Interestingly, the parents were surveyed about nutrition and all of the parents stated that they felt it was important for their child to get a nutritious meal at lunchtime. Other criteria for the parents' food choices:
- 69 percent chose foods based on family preferences
- 47 percent based on convenience of stores
- 22 percent chose items for best quality produce
- 11 percent said that seasonl produce was important
- 55 percent admitted they knowingly packed lunches that were not healthy choices
A few links to help:
- Children’s Nutrition Series (Intro)
- The State of Our Union’s Children
A detailed overview of what trends are occurring in our children's diets, and the factors that contribute to the issues
- Our Children Are What They Eat
A look at what our children are eating and the nutritional issues parents face.
- Why Kids Eat What They Do (or Don’t) Part I: Parents' Role
A look at all the sources of dietary influence on our children's food choices. Part I includes the parents' role in influencing our children's diets.
- Why Kids Eat What They Do (or Don’t) Part II: Outside Influences
A look at all the other sources of dietary influence on our children's food choices. This includes schools, social activity, marketing, food supply, culture. The post will examine each of the outside influences and how it affects our kids.
- Food Marketing and Your Child Part I: The Small Screen with Big Impact
This topic belongs under the sources post, but it has become such a huge issue that it needs to be reviewed in depth. An estimated $12 billion is spent anually to market foods to children and youth. Often these marketing messages are targeted to pre-schoolers who are too young to be able to differentiate commercial messages from educational messages. Part I covers television advertising.
- Food Marketing and Your Child Part II: When the TV is Off, the Marketing is Still On
Part II covers all the other forms of advertising, including marketing in our schools.
- We Shall Overcome: Recommendations for Parents
A set of ten actionable steps we can take as parents to encourage a better diet and lifestyle for our children and minimize the impact of food marketing to our kids.
- Links and Resources
Want to learn more on this topic? These links and resources are a great place to start.