Parents urged to switch children to school meals

Parents are failing to put enough fruit and vegetables into their children’s packed lunches, health experts have warned.

The School Food Trust, which examined 3,500 packed lunches in England in 2009, says about 40% of lunchboxes contain no fruit or vegetables at all, compared with only 10% of school dinners and says parents should consider switching to school meals.

Patricia Mucavele, research and nutrition manager at the School Food Trust said, “School lunches are now the most nutritious choice for children and young people.

“Packed lunches aren’t as nutritious as school meals – they are typically higher in saturated fat, sugar and salt and often contain foods that can’t be provided in schools, such as sweets and salted snacks.

“Making healthy packed lunches that give children the variety they need in their diet takes a lot of time and effort.

“We have previously estimated that parents could spend almost eight days a year making packed lunches that meet the national standards for school food.

“And when you look at how the prices compare, it gives parents wanting to give their children good food and save time and money, something to think about.”

The trust’s 2009 Primary School Food Survey, included an in-depth look at the contents of almost 3,500 packed lunches across 135 schools in England.

It found 58% of those with packed lunches had items that could count towards their “five a day” fruit and vegetable target, compared with over 90% of those eating school meals.

Source:School Food Trust

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