Healthy tips: Packing a lunch box with fruit, sandwiches, and snacks is a common practice for most Australian families. But what if there was another way?
Flinders University researchers investigating the pros and cons of school-provided lunches say uniform delivery of lunchtime food at school could be a solution to better childhood nutrition and learning in Australia.
Flinders Caring Futures Institute deputy director Professor Rebecca Golley says universal school-provided lunch models – a common practice in other countries such as the UK – would involve all children in the school being provided with the same nutritious diet, with less room for sweet, salty, or fatty ‘treats’ in the mix.
“A universal school-provided lunch model could help to ensure all children have access to food at school, reduce the stigma of children not having lunch or having different types of foods to their peers, and help to ensure children are provided with healthy lunch options,” Professor Golley has said, after publishing the results of an Australian study.
“By children being provided with healthy meals at schools we think it will help children to concentrate in the classroom and support their learning.”
The Flinders University research team has separately completed a project describing the dietary intake of 5 to 12-year-old children during school hours. They found that 40% of the energy kids consume at school comes from unhealthy food, with most children consuming very few serves of vegetables, protein-rich foods, or dairy during school hours. Commonly consumed foods included biscuits, processed meat, packaged snacks, bread, and fruit.