Kids' packed lunches often fall short of dietary guidelines

Only 27% of lunches brought from home include three of the five National School Lunch standards, according to new study.

NEW YORK—Packed lunches that children bring from home are often missing the vegetables, milk and other healthy items recommended by dietary guidelines, says a new study.

More than 40 percent of U.S. kids bring their own food to school, but there have been very few studies of what kids have in their lunchboxes, the authors note.

For the new study, they examined the lunchbox contents of 626 third and fourth graders who attended 12 public elementary schools in Eastern Massachusetts.

“Most of the foods we saw were pre-packaged salty snack foods and sugary desserts - we saw much less fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy,” lead author Kristie Hubbard told Reuters Health in an email.

She is a researcher and registered dietician at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

“The findings highlight the challenges associated with packing healthful items and the opportunities for nutrition experts to help parents and kids pack lunches and snacks that are healthy, convenient, cost-effective and taste good,” Hubbard said.

About 48 percent of the students in the study brought lunches from home, and 97 percent of those lunches included a snack, the researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The most common lunch items were sandwiches, which were found in 59 percent of lunches. About 34 percent of lunches contained fruit and 11 percent had vegetables.

Roughly 42 percent of lunches had snack items and 28 percent included dessert.

For beverages, 28 percent of lunches included water, 24 percent included sugar-sweetened drinks and three percent included milk. Another 11 percent of kids planned to buy milk at school.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., will soon switch over from magnetic strip-based student ID cards to chip-based ones, The Observer reports.

Along with being more secure, the new cards will allow students easier access to dining halls, enabling them to simply tap their cards on a reader to gain entrance. Students will also be able to add flex points and Domer Dollars—which can be used at eateries on and off campus—to their accounts via a mobile app.

The new cards are expected to be available by the time school begins next fall.

Read the full story...

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

FSD Resources