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School lunch: should children or parents choose?

pancakerunnerpancakerunner Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member Member
I can see both sides of the argument. Curious to hear your thoughts.
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  • bpetroskybpetrosky Posts: 3,706Member Member Posts: 3,706Member Member
    I'm not sure I see the argument. Younger children will generally eat what their parent packs for them or what is given in the cafeteria. Older children will have more discretion and choice. Is there something I'm missing here?
  • corinasue1143corinasue1143 Posts: 1,972Member Member Posts: 1,972Member Member
    Grade school - parents
    Middle school - kids should have some input
    High school - doesn’t really matter what any of us or their parents say.
  • LyndaBSSLyndaBSS Posts: 4,966Member, Premium Member Posts: 4,966Member, Premium Member
    I remember when my stepson was about 7 and said he couldn't drink a smoothie I'd made because it had dots in it. He was referring to the smashed up blueberries. LOL 😂
  • HannahwalksfarHannahwalksfar Posts: 574Member Member Posts: 574Member Member
    It depends on the child and how they were raised. I used to be a foster carer and those kids were mostly raised on junk and couldn’t have picked a balanced and nutritious lunch if they tried. Whereas my mum always let us choose our lunches because we understood how to eat correctly. It comes down to the child’s understanding of food and self-control with junky stuff.
  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,827Member Member Posts: 1,827Member Member
    My kid is in primary school (in Australia). Our school canteen is supposedly a "healthy food zone" -as in - they don't actually sell stuff like fries or sweets. They have a variety of sandwiches and hot lunches that are made in-house such as lasagna, they have some sweet options like those fruit juice ice tubes and some other little fruit bite thingies which is like a dried fruit thing.

    Here in Australia though you either buy food from canteen or you take packed lunch. My kid is a pain in the *kitten* in terms of food, so I pack her lunch to make sure that she actually eats. I sometimes give her a choice - as in "do you want a butter sandwich today or a cheese sandwich?" She always chooses butter or honey, so after about 2 days of butter I don't even bother to ask, I just chuck in a cheese sandwich. And then she leaves half of it uneaten (she's very very picky eater).



  • lemongirlbclemongirlbc Posts: 160Member Member Posts: 160Member Member
    In Australia here too, and have 2 kids in primary school. They both pack their own lunches, so have quite a bit in way of choice, but obviously the choice is restricted to what I have bought for them. Today, for example, my 11 year old tried to get away with packing just some pretzels and a couple crackers. I forced her to add some fruit and a yogurt, but I know she won't eat them....her full lunch comes home again 99% of the time. I have know idea if/what she eats at school, it's been a mystery for years. I force them to have a well rounded breakfast and dinner, including protein and veg, so I'm not OVERLY worried about their intake at school and it allows them some autonomy.
  • aokoyeaokoye Posts: 2,807Member Member Posts: 2,807Member Member
    I chose when I was a kid, but like a mishmash of what others have described, I was picky in a very odd way but also could easily choose a balanced meal. A sandwich with whole wheat bread and rotisserie chicken and a side of fruit and maybe some fruit snacks was totally fine with me. Meanwhile deli meat, peanut butter and jelly, anything with mayo on it, anything with cheese, etc wouldn't pass my lips.
  • StrawblackcatStrawblackcat Posts: 943Member Member Posts: 943Member Member
    I think kids should get some sort of say in what to eat for lunch, but it should be within reason. So, rather than asking them "What do you want to eat for lunch tomorrow?", I feel a more appropriate question would be along the lines of "Do you want a peanut butter sandwich for lunch tomorrow, or do you want me to pack a thermos of chicken noodle soup for you?"

    This way, they still get a choice, but it's instituting limits as to what they can have.
  • youngmomtazyoungmomtaz Posts: 900Member Member Posts: 900Member Member
    We have a few rules around here. My youngest has the same rules the older ones had when they packed lunches. One veggie, one fruit, and a protein source(Greek yogurt/cheese/leftover meat from the night before/boiled eggs) are a must and after that he packs whatever he wants for the day. Homemade cookies, muffins, pudding cups, whatever he can eat quickly because recess or soccer practice is happening and he refuses to miss a second of it. He is now in grade 7 and only in the past year has actually began to eat his lunch. At home I know he is going to get a protein and vegetabale heavy evening meal with some raw veg and dip for after school snack and often air popped popcorn or oatmeal as a bedtime snack, so if his lunch is small or he didn’t eat it, he gets in enough calories and nutrition easily in the evening.
  • youngmomtazyoungmomtaz Posts: 900Member Member Posts: 900Member Member
    In Australia here too, and have 2 kids in primary school. They both pack their own lunches, so have quite a bit in way of choice, but obviously the choice is restricted to what I have bought for them. Today, for example, my 11 year old tried to get away with packing just some pretzels and a couple crackers. I forced her to add some fruit and a yogurt, but I know she won't eat them....her full lunch comes home again 99% of the time. I have know idea if/what she eats at school, it's been a mystery for years. I force them to have a well rounded breakfast and dinner, including protein and veg, so I'm not OVERLY worried about their intake at school and it allows them some autonomy.

    My son went hungry for years. I would pack things that would survive the day in his bag and when he brought it all home again he would sit at the table and finally eat. I think he just did not want to miss any fun or outside time and would not even open his lunch. I would make sure he got a good sized breakfast every morning but often he would not eat again until 4pm.

    I currently drive school bus and have a few kids who dive into their full lunch during the 1hour ride home. I have taught them to be tidy about it and remind them to take small bites. It’s like as soon as they have any down time their brain finally registers hunger.
  • seltzermint555seltzermint555 Posts: 9,536Member Member Posts: 9,536Member Member
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    My kid is in primary school (in Australia). Our school canteen is supposedly a "healthy food zone" -as in - they don't actually sell stuff like fries or sweets. They have a variety of sandwiches and hot lunches that are made in-house such as lasagna, they have some sweet options like those fruit juice ice tubes and some other little fruit bite thingies which is like a dried fruit thing.

    Here in Australia though you either buy food from canteen or you take packed lunch. My kid is a pain in the *kitten* in terms of food, so I pack her lunch to make sure that she actually eats. I sometimes give her a choice - as in "do you want a butter sandwich today or a cheese sandwich?" She always chooses butter or honey, so after about 2 days of butter I don't even bother to ask, I just chuck in a cheese sandwich. And then she leaves half of it uneaten (she's very very picky eater).



    I have to ask - what is a butter sandwich? Is it literally butter between two slices of bread?
  • hmhill17hmhill17 Posts: 123Member Member Posts: 123Member Member
    My kids' school went away from the healthy "chef driven" lunch company and started what they call Fun Lunch, which is fast food 3 days a week.

    I let my kids get it, but the rule is they have to take fruit and dairy for their snack and another fruit for lunch. The rest of their meals are healthy.

    My oldest only ate chicken nuggets or pizza for lunch in high school. He has always been picky. I doubt that will change now that he's at college and has no one putting food in front of him. Probably hasn't eaten a vegetable since he got there.
  • pancakerunnerpancakerunner Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member Member
    MikePTY wrote: »
    I think that school meals should be free for all public school students, regardless of income. They should provide several healthy options for the children to choose from. As long as the school is only providing options that have good nutritional value, I don't see any harm in letting the children choose themselves (minus any allergy issues).

    I like this idea, but can only imagine the politics behind it.
  • MikePTYMikePTY Posts: 2,958Member, Premium Member Posts: 2,958Member, Premium Member
    MikePTY wrote: »
    I think that school meals should be free for all public school students, regardless of income. They should provide several healthy options for the children to choose from. As long as the school is only providing options that have good nutritional value, I don't see any harm in letting the children choose themselves (minus any allergy issues).

    I like this idea, but can only imagine the politics behind it.

    It actually is something that is implemented now in some school districts. Under the federal free and reduced lunch program, any school where at least 40 percent of students qualify for free meals is eligible to provide free breakfast and lunch to their entire student body for free. I am not sure how many schools take advantage of it. There are a couple of reasons for it, but one of the main ideas behind it is to reduce the stigma associated with being one of the "poor kids who gets free lunch".
  • betsymoomoobetsymoomoo Posts: 48Member, Premium Member Posts: 48Member, Premium Member
    My kids have always packed their own lunches with guidelines they needed to have the right amount of fruit veggie and one treat.
  • seltzermint555seltzermint555 Posts: 9,536Member Member Posts: 9,536Member Member
    MikePTY wrote: »
    MikePTY wrote: »
    I think that school meals should be free for all public school students, regardless of income. They should provide several healthy options for the children to choose from. As long as the school is only providing options that have good nutritional value, I don't see any harm in letting the children choose themselves (minus any allergy issues).

    I like this idea, but can only imagine the politics behind it.

    It actually is something that is implemented now in some school districts. Under the federal free and reduced lunch program, any school where at least 40 percent of students qualify for free meals is eligible to provide free breakfast and lunch to their entire student body for free. I am not sure how many schools take advantage of it. There are a couple of reasons for it, but one of the main ideas behind it is to reduce the stigma associated with being one of the "poor kids who gets free lunch".

    No idea if this is true, but I have also heard that some school districts have discovered the hours & money that go into their systems of digital payment cards, cafeteria cashiers, and managing/collecting on negative balances, is not cost-effective. The profit is so small (or nonexistent), and they are actually better off just providing free school lunch to all students with no payment involved. It seems a little difficult to believe but when you really think about it I can imagine this holding truth in some situations.
  • WinoGelatoWinoGelato Posts: 13,269Member Member Posts: 13,269Member Member
    MikePTY wrote: »
    MikePTY wrote: »
    I think that school meals should be free for all public school students, regardless of income. They should provide several healthy options for the children to choose from. As long as the school is only providing options that have good nutritional value, I don't see any harm in letting the children choose themselves (minus any allergy issues).

    I like this idea, but can only imagine the politics behind it.

    It actually is something that is implemented now in some school districts. Under the federal free and reduced lunch program, any school where at least 40 percent of students qualify for free meals is eligible to provide free breakfast and lunch to their entire student body for free. I am not sure how many schools take advantage of it. There are a couple of reasons for it, but one of the main ideas behind it is to reduce the stigma associated with being one of the "poor kids who gets free lunch".

    My kids go to elementary school in a large city school district and even though their particular school doesn’t meet the criteria the whole district is on free breakfast and lunch. They bring lunch from home 1-2 days a week and “buy” the others more out of convenience for me than any sort of cost savings or nutritional benefit.

    The days they get school lunch are your typical kid food choices - burgers, pizza, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, nachos. There’s always a fruit and vegetable offered. They also have unlimited access to the salad bar which I’m sure they don’t hit up. I’m not that worried about it since the lunch they would bring from home would be similar on the nutritional front: sandwich or leftover pizza, pretzels, fruit, maybe a yogurt or some jello. They probably get more protein when they get school lunch than when we pack it at home.

    Since changing the policy to offer it to all kids I think it has cut down on the processing time so the lunch line process is more efficient than when the kids had prepaid balances and a key pad to track their purchases.
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