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School lunch: should children or parents choose?

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  • LillyStar24LillyStar24 Posts: 77Member Member Posts: 77Member Member
    I think it depends on the age/maturity of the child and what foods he/she likes. I have 2 boys - middle school and high school. Both given helthy snacks and well balanced diet. My high schooler would eat junk all day every day if I let him. My middle schooler has purchased salad for lunch almost every day since school sarted.
  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,898Member Member Posts: 1,898Member 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?

    Yep - literally butter spread between 2 pieces of wholewheat or rye bread. I know. Eyeroll. My kid is like that though - eats a very limited diet which drives me bonkers, but at least the limited stuff she eats is relatively good - carrots, rice, eggs, vegetarian sausages (she's vegetarian. I'm not), cucumber, potato, bread, pasta (plain with nothing on it), cheese, lots of fruit (thankfully!! fruit is not a problem!), corn and then the generic crap such as pretzels and crisps and banana bread and what have you. Of course they like junky foods!
  • seltzermint555seltzermint555 Posts: 9,824Member Member Posts: 9,824Member Member
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    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?

    Yep - literally butter spread between 2 pieces of wholewheat or rye bread. I know. Eyeroll. My kid is like that though - eats a very limited diet which drives me bonkers, but at least the limited stuff she eats is relatively good - carrots, rice, eggs, vegetarian sausages (she's vegetarian. I'm not), cucumber, potato, bread, pasta (plain with nothing on it), cheese, lots of fruit (thankfully!! fruit is not a problem!), corn and then the generic crap such as pretzels and crisps and banana bread and what have you. Of course they like junky foods!

    Thanks for your answer! I actually didn't expect it to be that...I thought you would say it's just a sandwich with butter instead of other condiments (but ham or something as its filling)...or that Australians refer to peanut and other nut butters as a "butter sandwich"! Just a picky kid I guess but like you say, decent variety at least.
  • jo_nzjo_nz Posts: 371Member Member Posts: 371Member Member
    My kids are terrible - they would only take junk every day if they could, though they do have access to apples, carrots and milk at school (one eats the apples and has the milk, the other has the carrots occasionally). They don't have any cafeteria or food available at school (though my son will next year when he goes to high school - we'll see what happens there).

    At 9 & 12, they both "know" which things are more or less nutritious, but they feel the pressure to have the little packets of food they see other kids having. I limit how much of those treat items that I buy, but I know that sometimes that's all that gets eaten (especially by Miss 9). We have pretty substantial afternoon snacks when they come home from school, and they eat well at dinner, so overall they do okay.

    I also help run the breakfast programme at school - really we want to help those kids that don't have breakfast (or lunch, in some cases), but it's open to everyone. We offer cereals, toast and fruit daily, plus have baked beans or porridge available on various days. We have had some really positive feedback from the teachers that having the kids fed before school really helps in the classroom.
  • lynn_glenmontlynn_glenmont Posts: 7,148Member Member Posts: 7,148Member Member
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    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?

    Yep - literally butter spread between 2 pieces of wholewheat or rye bread. I know. Eyeroll. My kid is like that though - eats a very limited diet which drives me bonkers, but at least the limited stuff she eats is relatively good - carrots, rice, eggs, vegetarian sausages (she's vegetarian. I'm not), cucumber, potato, bread, pasta (plain with nothing on it), cheese, lots of fruit (thankfully!! fruit is not a problem!), corn and then the generic crap such as pretzels and crisps and banana bread and what have you. Of course they like junky foods!

    Thanks for your answer! I actually didn't expect it to be that...I thought you would say it's just a sandwich with butter instead of other condiments (but ham or something as its filling)...or that Australians refer to peanut and other nut butters as a "butter sandwich"! Just a picky kid I guess but like you say, decent variety at least.

    I wasn't a picky kid at all, but when my Mom made bread, I would take bread and butter (essentially the same thing as the butter sandwich, as putting the two buttered sides on the inside meant the butter didn't all end up sticking to the plastic bag or whatever you wrapped it in) for lunch. Probably with a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit, maybe soup in a thermos if she had made soup too. But the homemade bread was the star.
  • KerrieA87KerrieA87 Posts: 73Member Member Posts: 73Member Member
    My teenager makes her own but she goes to a really strict school whereby no junk food of any kind is allowed.
    My 8 year old could tell you what junk food is and how bad it is for you but still want to eat it
    My 7 year old is a fitness fanatic who aspires to be a pro athlete one day so she picked her lunch menus

    A typical lunch for the younger two would consist of quiche, hard boiled egg, cucumber and pepper slices with a tuna dip and grapes and that would be at the 7 year olds request
  • Sunshine_And_SandSunshine_And_Sand Posts: 1,273Member Member Posts: 1,273Member 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".

    I am not sure how every district operates the free and reduced lunches, but in the district we are zoned for, all the kids get a lunch number. They punch in their lunch number and the person at the register tells them how much they owe based on how much is in their lunch account. The free and reduced kids have the same process as everyone else, just they would never be owing money. So, the other kids wouldn’t know they were getting free or reduced lunch unless they just decided to share that information.
  • Sunshine_And_SandSunshine_And_Sand Posts: 1,273Member Member Posts: 1,273Member Member
    I pack lunches for both of my kids, 3rd grade and 8th grade. I give them choices about what they want within what I am ok with them having. They occasionally decide they no longer want something they previously wanted daily, so if I see they are consistently not eating, I do re-evaluate to see if I can get something they will eat that is also reasonably nutritious.
    When I was in high school, I packed my own lunch, and the only reason my parents had any clue as to what I was packing was that I’d ask them to get the stuff I wanted when they did grocery shopping. Otherwise, I was healthy and active, so I suppose they had no reason to police that closely.
  • SnifterPugSnifterPug Posts: 174Member Member Posts: 174Member Member
    Children should have a say, and should be involved in order to learn about good nutrition choices. Assuming the parent is capable of teaching this. There was a report in our papers recently of an adolescent who has gone blind. This is because around age 8 he decided he would eat nothing but white bread, French fries and Pringles. And this was allowed to go on until he went blind. I kid you not.
  • stricklee11stricklee11 Posts: 193Member Member Posts: 193Member Member
    Parents should choose in primary school (US K-6). They should be open to feedback from their kids though. I also think by age 9, children can start packing their own lunches with some supervision.

    Children should choose in secondary school as they are old enough to prepare their own lunches.
  • CSARdiverCSARdiver Posts: 6,169Member Member Posts: 6,169Member Member
    Children should have a say in the matter as long as it meets their nutritional and calorie needs. Parents should be guiding children through the process to ensure wise choices are being made. Wise parents will learn that to outsource without accountability produces poor results.
  • lynn_glenmontlynn_glenmont Posts: 7,148Member Member Posts: 7,148Member Member
    SnifterPug wrote: »
    Children should have a say, and should be involved in order to learn about good nutrition choices. Assuming the parent is capable of teaching this. There was a report in our papers recently of an adolescent who has gone blind. This is because around age 8 he decided he would eat nothing but white bread, French fries and Pringles. And this was allowed to go on until he went blind. I kid you not.

    I think this thread addresses the news story you're talking about.

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10762871/does-a-diet-high-in-ultra-processed-foods-cause-deafness-blindness#latest
  • KerrieA87KerrieA87 Posts: 73Member Member Posts: 73Member Member
    SnifterPug wrote: »
    Children should have a say, and should be involved in order to learn about good nutrition choices. Assuming the parent is capable of teaching this. There was a report in our papers recently of an adolescent who has gone blind. This is because around age 8 he decided he would eat nothing but white bread, French fries and Pringles. And this was allowed to go on until he went blind. I kid you not.

    I think this thread addresses the news story you're talking about.

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10762871/does-a-diet-high-in-ultra-processed-foods-cause-deafness-blindness#latest


    In fairness that child had a psychological condition, you wouldn’t say that an anorexic person was choosing not to eat because there’s a large awareness around it being a psychological disorder.
  • nuzzieknuzziek Posts: 31Member Member Posts: 31Member 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.

    I work in administration at a school district in the US and can provide some clarity on this. The schools that are in a situation with 40%+ students being free/reduced, that are eligible to then provide free lunches to all, have the lunch cost reimbursed by the federal government. It is not a cost that the school has to cover.
  • JeromeBarry1JeromeBarry1 Posts: 10,132Member Member Posts: 10,132Member Member
    The only place I know of where the parents are welcome to say anything about the school food is in the small and very wealthy town of Highland Park, Texas. Perhaps I'm thinking of the even smaller and wealthier University Park. Both are surrounded by Dallas. In whichever it is, parents volunteer to serve as cafeteria workers. This allows the cafeteria director to use the budget for better food, rather than for both cheaper food and wages.
  • CSARdiverCSARdiver Posts: 6,169Member Member Posts: 6,169Member Member
    The only place I know of where the parents are welcome to say anything about the school food is in the small and very wealthy town of Highland Park, Texas. Perhaps I'm thinking of the even smaller and wealthier University Park. Both are surrounded by Dallas. In whichever it is, parents volunteer to serve as cafeteria workers. This allows the cafeteria director to use the budget for better food, rather than for both cheaper food and wages.

    There's a fundamental flaw in the concept of parents being welcome to provide input into a service they pay for.

    I grew up in a small town with a very high sense of ownership and participation. I recently moved into a small town with a similar, if not greater sense of personal responsibility. Over 90% voter participation rate and basically the whole town shows up at every meeting.

    Not surprisingly the school is one of the highest rated in the state due to this personal and local investment.
  • lynn_glenmontlynn_glenmont Posts: 7,148Member Member Posts: 7,148Member Member
    KerrieA87 wrote: »
    SnifterPug wrote: »
    Children should have a say, and should be involved in order to learn about good nutrition choices. Assuming the parent is capable of teaching this. There was a report in our papers recently of an adolescent who has gone blind. This is because around age 8 he decided he would eat nothing but white bread, French fries and Pringles. And this was allowed to go on until he went blind. I kid you not.

    I think this thread addresses the news story you're talking about.

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10762871/does-a-diet-high-in-ultra-processed-foods-cause-deafness-blindness#latest


    In fairness that child had a psychological condition, you wouldn’t say that an anorexic person was choosing not to eat because there’s a large awareness around it being a psychological disorder.

    I wasn't saying that. Do you think there were a lot of kids in the news recently who went blind from eating a severely restricted diet of white bread, fries, and potato chips (also I believe ham or bologna, which the person I was responding to omitted)? I'm confident that the news story discussed in the thread was the same one the person I was responding to was remembering, and I was just trying to divert possible derailment of this thread to a more appropriate venue.

  • montyeva1114montyeva1114 Posts: 73Member Member Posts: 73Member Member
    I work at an elementary school and part of my job is lunch duty. Kids throw so much of what you pack for them away!! But one thing I do notice is that the kids from different cultures who meals look more like what they eat at home with their families tend to eat their lunches. For example: chicken dumplings. Sushi. Etc. I would eat their lunches!!! Just think, if they are not eating it at home, they probably won’t at school.
  • phx92phx92 Posts: 64Member Member Posts: 64Member Member
    Obviously parents get to choose, ultimately they are responsible for their kids health. But I think it’s good to give kids choices if the options are healthy. They will be more likely to eat their food and help build better habits. And a lot of times they will make good choices. When I was in elementary school, kids could get lunch from the cafeteria or pack it. The cafeteria lunch you had a choice of salad bar or hot lunch (a kid friendly entree, usually fruit or veg except some fridays when there would be a cookie)—and a lot of kids ate the salad bar every day and probably more veg than the kids whose parents packed a meal. Middle school we had no salad option. But once we were in high school the cafeteria would offer a handful of premise salads every day, and those were always the first thing to run out.
  • maiomaio71maiomaio71 Posts: 126Member Member Posts: 126Member Member
    I used lunches to help educate my boys about food. We don't have school lunches here, it's a packed lunch or nothing. There was no school canteen. From the time they started school they helped make their own lunch. We had strict rules....they had to choose minimum two proteins (yoghurt, ham, cheese, brown rice, tuna etc) I had checkboxes on the fridge they could look at (pictures at first but once they could read it got easier), minimum two fruit, maximum one treat. They dobbed each other in if they took too many treats! What I couldn't control was if they swapped food at school....I discovered my youngest used to swap a yoghurt for a bag of crisps in year 5. By the time they were year 3 they made their own lunches. I bought the food, often they requested specific things eg smoked salmon for bagels etc but usually they picked a selection from what was available. By Yr 13 my youngest would cook bacon in the morning for bacon sandwiches for lunch.
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