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Parents Talk: School Lunch vs. Lunch Box

It's a mixed brown bag when it comes to what kids should eat in school.

School lunch can pose a problem for many parents.

Should you send a lunch from home, or should your kids eat school lunch?  

Many parents go with the school lunch program because it provides variety and is, for the most part, both easier and cheaper. Some parents believe that they can send a more nutritious lunch from home. And for picky eaters or children with dietary concerns, a bagged lunch might be the answer.

According to a university-sponsored study done on the subject in 2010, more than one in three middle school students who regularly eat school lunches are obese or overweight. The research suggests that efforts to provide healthier choices on school lunch menus still have a long way to go. But if I recall from my days in middle school, my parent-funded lunch money meant for the hot lunch line could just as easily have paid for a chocolate chip cookie the size of my head or a basket of French fries from a la carte.

Although things have improved in the area of nutrition since my school days, your child may choose to trade his or her salad for a brownie on a daily basis anyway. Of course, always helpful are on-going discussions with your child about nutrition and demonstrations of a healthy lifestyle set by your own example.

Last spring, a principal at a school in Chicago decided that all children, except for those with severe allergies, would eat school lunch and school lunch alone. The idea was to protect children from their own unhealthy food choices.

While we still have the opportunity to make the decision for ourselves, parents must decide what kind of lunch is best for their children.

So, do you include a lunch box or cash for lunch in your kids' backpacks? Why?

Tell us in comments.

Suzanne Huss September 08, 2011 at 12:41 PM
I always had my kids eat the school lunches and they are not picky eaters. The Hopkins lunch program is great. They have so many choices for the kids. There is always something they like. Take a look at the lunch menu. A lot different than when I went to school. http://www.hopkinsschools.org/sites/default/files/September_2011_elementary_lunch_and_breakfast_5_2.pdf
David F September 08, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Many school districts including LA have removed chocotate milk from their school lunch programs. Edina feels since the USDA recommends sugared milks it is ok. Bad choice. Most school lunch programs including Edina include too many unhealthy foods and my children bring bag lunches from home.
Rita May 01, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Is chocolate milk REALLY that bad? I remember in my school days I picked chocolate milk because I couldn't stand the taste of the school's white milk. I really wish they had other options besides milk like water, because drinking the milk always made me nervous. There were some days when it tasted off or when there were lumps in it and it was enough to put me off of drinking it, but unfortunately it was the only option and I would be thirsty if I didn't drink it. I'm not saying that I want soda for the kids, but bottled water would be a nice alternative.
Caitlin Burgess May 01, 2012 at 06:33 PM
The milk really had lumps in it!?
David F May 01, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Nothing wrong with water but if the kids are learning anything about sustainability water in bottles is not an option. The supply chain for dairy products has improved dramatically over the years and it is highly unlikely (not impossible) for milk to be spoiled in the schools. Chocolate milk, like soda, contains high amounts of sugar which are unnecessary and has been pointed out can lead to obesity. The idea of school lunch program was started because the US military was finding young recruits were malnourished and now the US military is finding most young US children are obese. It is good to see so many parents involved in helping their children make the right dietary decisions but too many children make the bad choices as mentioned that maybe do not get the same guidance.

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