5 Great Reasons to Send a Homemade Packed Lunch to School with Your Child

by , 08/27/12

Image by Flickr User shannonpatrick17

To Make Sure Your Child Has Healthy Meals

First consider the fact that public schools consider french fries and pizza a decent serving of veggies. Next consider that kids were served pink slime meat for years and years before anyone saw fit to do something about it. Lastly consider that it took 15 years just to enact some extremely simple healthy lunch changes at schools. Anyway you slice it, public schools care very little about what your child is eating. There have been some minor positive changes recently, such as more farm-to-school lunch programs, but overall, in most schools in the country, school lunches are the last thing you want your child eating. According to one California Watch analysis, a full 60% of CA school lunches reviewed over the last five years failed to meet federal nutritional requirements. California Watch notes that 30% of CA school districts exceeded the saturated fat limit and four out of five districts exceeded healthy sodium levels.

What’s worse is that California is actually considered “a leader in the nation” when it comes to better school lunches, so good luck if you live elsewhere. In fact, a 2007 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (pdf), shows that just 7% of schools nationwide meet school lunch nutritional requirements. On top of this, although school policy now says school lunches must be healthier, if kids reject healthy fare, after just a few attempts at serving healthy food, schools simply give up and go back to serving burgers and tater tots. In a country with skyrocketing obesity and childhood diabetes rates, this is 100% unacceptable. You can do better with healthy homemade lunches.

+ How does your child’s lunch stack up?

+ Schools trust McDonald’s to teach nutrition 101

Image courtesy of Organic Trade Association

To Go Organic & GMO-free

Most schools in this country don’t serve organic or GMO-free fare. Unless you’re extremely lucky, your child attends a school where the lunches are packed with GMOs, pesticides, artificial and toxic ingredients and fake food colors. Schools claim they can’t afford healthy, toxic-free food, but groups like Revolution Foods and advocates like Jamie Oliver have shown it’s 100% possible to feed kids well on a budget. In fact, some advocates, like Chef Ann Cooper; aka Renegade Lunch Lady, says schools can serve up healthy meals for just $1 a pop. Schools simply won’t get on board or admit that they’re wasting cash on insane extras like too much administration, crazy stuff like Fizzy Fruit (why yes, this is carbonated fruit) and energy misuse. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, schools spend more than $6 billion a year (pdf) on energy use and with just some simple changes, at least $1.5 billion of this could be saved and used for healthier food – $1.5 billion is a ton of organic apples. If schools set proper budgets they could afford healthy food for kids. But, since they won’t, you’re better off sending a packed lunch.

+ Support resources for organic, GMO-free school lunches

+ Appetite for Change – a campaign to change school lunches

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