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Why School Lunch?

Posted by Mary Liz Wright -

WHY SCHOOL LUNCH?

I'll admit it—when my children were in school they brought lunch from home far more often than they purchased the school prepared lunch. I thought it made me a "better" mom. I knew exactly what they were eating, or so I thought. I justified packing their lunches with that myth—mommy knew best. I would make sure they had fruits and veggies and sometimes even a little encouraging note. And I thought I was right, it made me feel good. And, way back then, the school lunches were a little, shall we say, nondescript. School lunch was often a monochromatic set of globs on a beige plastic tray. My, how things have changed! Fast forward to the school cafeteria today—a cheerful place with colorful posters on the wall and a rainbow of food on a plate. There are salad bars that will rival any restaurant. Fresh fruits and veggies galore. Whole grains and even desserts. How do I know that? —well U of I Extension has been given the opportunity from the Illinois Sate Board of Ed, to work with school food service staff to encourage students to eat the school lunch. I have worked with several schools in my area and I find that many children are not eating the school lunch. Why not? I have no idea! I think it's habit. I think maybe parents took their lunch back in the monochromatic days and they habitually pack their children's' lunches. Let's kick that habit! Go to your child's school—eat lunch with them. You will be pleasantly surprised. The Healthy School Lunch movement has done an awesome job. The prices are fair, the foods are tasty and it's all delivered to your child. Did you know that if you take 10 minutes to pack your child's lunch everyday it amounts to 30 hours per year? Yikes—that's almost a week!
Why school lunch?

  • It's healthy
  • It's cheap
  • It saves time
  • It opens up another avenue of conversation with your child—ask them how school went and they will say—fine—then ask them what they had for lunch—it opens the conversation door
  • Eating with others encourages children to try new foods
  • School lunch supports local state economy by participating in farm to school purchasing of milk, produce, meat.The average school district spends 6% of their budget on local products. https://farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov/find-your-school-district/illinois

Photo below is an actual Illinois school lunch from Monmouth Roseville


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