School Meals vs Packed Lunches
The School Food Standards have been in place for school meals for many years, to ensure that school meals provide children with the balance of nutrients needed to support optimal growth and learning. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for school packed lunches; with no existing policy in place to control what is brought into school!
Many parents mistakenly imagine that a packed lunch is the healthiest option. In fact, it is far easier to get the necessary nutrients in a cooked meal, with the School Food Plan reporting that only 1% of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards applied to school meals. Chocolate biscuits, cereal bars, crisps and sugary drinks continue to be popular choices in children’s lunchboxes in the UK. One of the most worrying trends appears to be the choice of drink in their packed lunches, with almost one in five lunches (18%) including ‘one shot’ fruit drinks which on average give a six year old more than their entire daily recommended limit of free sugars in one go – the equivalent of five sugar cubes!
At Chartwells we recently did an internal study to compare our school meals against an average packed lunch and the results were shocking! A packed lunch contained over 3 times the saturated fat, 3 times the salt and over 2 times the sugar of that in a Chartwells school meal!
With 86% of parents worrying about how their child eats, particularly those with children aged 4-7, our nutritionists at Chartwells believe it is vital that a packed lunch policy is brought in to help support a consistent healthy eating message to young children.