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The school lunch debate...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm sure this has been discussed many times, and i don't usually visit this part of the forums much but i was hoping to gather some advice, or at least some validation. DD10 and DS 8 buy a lunch most every day. We eat mostly organic at home and i do throw together a lunch for myself before i head to work but i have access to a fridge and microwave. They are on free lunch program so its definitely cheaper for them to buy. I work at 5 am so i cant ever pack them something hot. Their dad works full time and is in his senior year of school this year which dramatically cuts down his time to do lunches. DD is on swim team 3 days a week, and i like to make it to the gym during those times. Is it really so bad for them to eat a school lunch for a meal if  they're eating well the rest of the day. I feel incredibly guilty for not packing a lunch but my DH and I are just so tired all the time that packing 2 more lunches and coming up with the budget for that much more food seems overwhelming currently. I have tried letting them make lunches but it seems like treats are always "accidentally" slipping in and healthful foods are being forgotten. I feel like I'm letting them down by not providing healthful lunches but they don't seem to mind and they get a salad bar and milk w/ no RBST every day. It's really the entrees that I'm worried about. 



post #2 of 8

I know my niece gets a free lunch at school each day.  Like you, her dad was concerned about the quality of the food.  He requests the vegetarian lunch option for her.  That way she doesn't get served meat products of questionable quality at least.  Where they live, there must be a vegetarian option for each meal.  I don't know if that is the case everywhere though.

post #3 of 8

The food I buy and cook is pretty much 100% organic or local and unsprayed, I lean towards traditional foods, and definitely don't buy junk. But for us, school lunch (and breakfast) has been a blessing. Do I wish I could cook them every meal, like I did for years? Of course! But for me the choice is have them eat school food at school and Mama's home cooking at home, or being totally stressed out and overwhelmed with it and end up going to the food bank at the end of the month, which is about the worst option out there..

post #4 of 8

Gluten is the main issue.  Even a little bit of gluten each day can block absorption of other nutrients the child eats.  If you're not gluten free, the school part wouldn't be an issue.  Grains have many anti-nutrients that are harmful to people, especially children as they are growing, and considering the food pyramid, there are probably many servings of grains in the school.  Again, if you eat grains at home, the school part of it won't be an issue.

post #5 of 8

Does the food have to meet certain standards?  Low-sodium, full serving of veg, no nitrates or artificial colorings? If it doesn't I would certainly be pushing for it.


...if they are eating well at home and are healthy I wouldn't be too concerned, as parents we have enough to worry about!  

post #6 of 8


I think you are being too hard on yourself!

We pretty much eat organic, traditional foods at home but I usually let my son eat in the school cafeteria once a week, sometimes twice a week.

Unless they have allergies, I think if they are eating good food most of the time at breakfast and dinner as well as weekends cafeteria food is not going to do any harm.

post #7 of 8

I think it sounds like if you were to start packing lunches this would stress you out way more than your children getting a less than optimal meal once a day.  Is it better to pack a better/healthier lunch everyday, absolutly.  But is it worth your sanity, no.  Do what you can when you can.  Maybe when your husband is out of school life will get to be a bit easier for you and somone will be able to pack your kids lunches.  Just a thought but what about buying easy lunch options that your children could pack for themselves?  I think an 8 and 10 year old should be able to do that themselves.  You can have grapes or other fruits already individualy packaged for them to just grab and go.  You could also have some good quality beef jerky they could easily pack.  Check out everydaypaleo.com for her lunch ideas.  She's got tons.  Maybe this could help you.  But don't do anything if it's going to cause you to much stress.

post #8 of 8

I found when I was bending over backwards and stressing myself out to pack my daughter healthy lunches, a lot of it came home uneaten, and really she wanted to eat the (blech) cafeteria food, so I let it go. It was a short phase, and I don't think it really did any overall damage for her to get school lunch for a year. Nowadays, I think she'd be happy to pack lunch, though. So if I were in your shoes, I would give them the choice to pack it themselves the night before or roll with the cafe the next day. Having premade stuff would probably help them be able to pack it, but like PPs said, don't stress over it! Don't let perfect be the enemy of good, right? If you are spending way too much energy on the packed lunch quest, then you might not have as much time/energy to do what you are now with family meals.

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