A group of retired military officers are in Washington DC today, discussing the latest threat to our national security, school lunches.
Approximately 27% of Americans aged 17-24 are to heavy to join the military. Experts blame school lunches chock full of empty calories and poor nutrition.
School lunches have long been the butt of many jokes, and now we find that the jokes are true, school lunches are not good for our kids.
So what are we to do? We can rally and ask our school to offer healthy alternatives, but sadly the school lunch program is tied up in so much red tape that it may be too late for this current crop of kids. School lunches are an example of cheap food being costly it he long run.
As parents, you can make the choice to not feed your children inferior food. Brown bag and lunch box lunched stake minutes a day to pack, and most children are able to take responsibility for most of the food preparations on their own.
The temptation with brown bag lunches is to opt for cheap and easy food to prepare lunches quickly. Unfortunately, often this leads to a bag lunch that is only slightly better than the school bought option.
Some great lunch box options are leftover soups or chili in an insulated container. Dan’s Supermarket bakery has delicious sub buns that can be piled with fresh meats, cheeses and vegetables. Fresh fruit is always a great option in lunch. Older students appreciate a salad with a healthy dressing on the side. My children enjoy hard boiled eggs in their lunches.
Have a healthy variety of side dishes on hand to pack in lunches as well. Homemade granola bars are healthy and tasty snacks. Juice boxes with 100% juice are readily available, or send money for your student to purchase 1% milk at school. Instead of adding potato chips or other fatty snacks to the lunch bag, consider a handful of almonds or some whole wheat crackers.
Consider asking your school what can be done to improve quality in the short term. Make a conscious effort to teach your children about good nutrition while they are young and their tastes and habits are forming.
As a result, you will probably save money. In Bismarck the average cost of a school lunch is $2.50 a person. In my household that accounts for $50 per week in school lunches. Instead I have decided to turn around and add $50 a week to our food budget, to purchase additional healthy ingredients so that there are healthy alternatives on hand to pack in lunches.
What is your favorite school lunch to pack?
Do you have a student in a Bismarck area school that is making strides to make lunch healthier? If so, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.