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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

School Lunch vs. Packed Lunch


For many parents, the decision of whether to send their child to school with a packed lunch or purchase a meal at school is fraught with uncertainty. Which one is the healthier option?
Earlier this year, the USDA overhauled its nutrition standards for school lunches. In addition to ensuring that fruits and vegetables are offered every day, school lunch portion sizes are age-appropriate and more whole-grains are offered.

This was a welcome change for many local parents, since over 500,000 Kentucky children utilize the National School Lunch Program every month.  Still, some parents aren’t satisfied with the improvements and prefer to pack even healthier lunches for their children. They may want their children to drink organic milk or eat a wider range of foods than what is served at school, such as hummus, avocados, and freshly-made salsa. Parents also may not want their children to have access to cafeteria “extras” that are sometimes sold at the end of the lunch line, such as chips or cookies.

For some children, however, bringing a lunch from home would be a far less healthy option than what is served through the National School Lunch Program even with the extras. If a child is sent to school every day with a high-sodium Oscar Meyer Lunchable, a Capri Sun fruit punch and a candy bar, the school lunch looks considerably more nutritious.

Contributed by Carrie Vittitoe, parent-writer for Today’s Family magazine. 

Photo Source: Karma Spot





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