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Despite a significant overhaul of the recommended guidelines and school lunch programs, reports are finding that school lunches are sub-par. However, it appears that though the school offerings are improving, many packed lunches are not up to standard. It was found that students are bringing lunch high in fat and sodium, but low in fiber, calcium, and protein.
A review at over 12 elementary and middle schools found that packed lunches often did not include the recommended portions of healthy foods. Even in cases that healthier options were included, 20-30% of these items ended up in the garbage. Many lunch bags were packed with items based on a child's preference, but not necessarily for its nutritional value. As a result, there were more chips, cookies, and sugary drinks but less vegetables, fruit, and milk.
In response to this study, researchers are urging parents to either have children purchase meals and drinks at school, or to work with their children to make healthier choices. Buying lunch at school can help to ensure that kids get the nutrients they need to be healthy. If, however, parents prefer to send lunch, it is suggested that parents invite children into the process to make healthier choices that they're likely to eat.
Ensuring proper nutrition can go a long way toward building a brighter future for our children. Well balanced intake, including all necessary vitamins and minerals, is essential to a long and fulfilling life.