A Facebook thread asking teachers in the UK for the worst examples of a child’s packed school lunch has thrown up quite a few surprises! Were there too many treats? Did they bring peanut butter sandwiches to a nut-free school? Did they sneak in a piece of birthday cake? Nope. Not even close.
The worst lunches
Prepare yourself as these are not examples of a parent who’s run out of bread and fresh fruit at the end of the week and has had to throw together a mish-mash of packaged convenience foods (we’ve ALL been there!). No, these examples shared by teachers are just straight up shocking.
- A pork pie and a can of shandy. The student had made the lunch himself and that’s all there was in the fridge.
- A can of Red Bull and a bag of Monster Munch corn snacks.
- A packet of ginger biscuits – mum had been “too tired” to go to the shops.
- When a teacher questioned a parent on why their child had brought a can of Red Bull for lunch they were told, “He’d had a late night on his Xbox and seemed like he needed a pick-me-up.”
- A Happy Meal box with a cold McDonald’s burger and fries. The child’s grandmother explained that it had been bought the day before but wasn’t eaten.
- A child with no lunch said he had cereal with water for breakfast because his mother needed the milk for her coffee.
None of the above examples resemble a healthy lunch for growing kids. These are the extremes – or, at least, they should be. In 2012, TV current affairs show Campbell Live visited two NZ schools to look at the difference between kids’ lunches at a decile 1 and a decile 10 school with pretty shocking results. Last year, Newshub.co.nz revisited similar classes to see if there had been any progress. You can read the report here. One of the kids at the decile 1 school had an apple as his entire lunch (and had had no breakfast) and another had a packet of gingernuts for lunch.
The perfect lunch box
There are a dozen different reasons why a child’s lunch box may not be the perfectly balanced, healthy and nutritious meal that health specialists want us to achieve. Even if you are able to afford and prepare the perfect lunch, you can’t make your child eat it. So often parents will opt for “fed is best”. And there is absolutely no judgement here! One look in my kid’s lunch box and teachers would probably wonder if I’m really doing my best. I am. But they don’t know the years of struggle to get him to eat even a little bit of variety due to sensory issues.
It’s never easy to ask for help but families who are struggling to afford food for the family can seek assistance from organisations like The Foodbank Project, Whanau feeding Whanau (Wellington), St Vinnies, and Salvation Army. You can find a list of local foodbanks at Foodbank New Zealand. Some areas are setting up a community or social pantry. Search on Facebook for one near you (or set one up for your community). There are also community fruit harvest and food rescue groups.
Do you struggle to find a good balance for your child’s school lunch? Join the discussion in the comments below.
This article was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.
Read more on Kidspot:
- Lunch box recipes
- 10 healthy lunch box recipes they’ll actually eat
- Reducing your child’s food waste
- 5 day lunch box plan