News & Media

21 January 2015

How to get children eating healthy school lunches

The return to school also means a return to the endless quest for a school lunch the children will actually eat, according to Chris Rush, Manager Primary Prevention at Latrobe Community Health Service.

School lunches shape how kids think about healthy eating

How to get children eating healthy school lunches

The return to school also means a return to the endless quest for a school lunch the children will actually eat, according to Chris Rush, Manager Primary Prevention at Latrobe Community Health Service.

“We all know the stress of trying to bundle the family out the door on a Monday morning,” said Ms Rush.

“But school lunch is just such an important part of shaping how children think about healthy eating. It’s vital that we don’t take shortcuts.”

Ms Rush recommends five ways to make healthy school lunches a reality:

  1. During summer, make sure you keep lunch cool with an insulated bag or lunchbox. Salad sandwiches that are warm make the healthy eating battle that much harder, and a chilled lunchbox opens up a whole range of food options. Use a frozen yoghurt or frozen orange segments to keep the rest of lunch cool.
  2. Plan lunches at the start of the week, and involve the kids. This reduces the temptation to add packaged food to lunches during the morning rush.
  3. Watch out for food packaged as ‘healthy’, particularly muesli bars, fruit straps and anything that is ‘oven-baked’. They are rarely a healthy option for school lunches.
  4. Stick at it! Don’t waver if your kids balk at healthy lunches – they will adjust when they realise you’re not going to change your mind.
  5. Only pack water, no fruit juice or fizzy drinks.

Ms Rush said fruit juice and fizzy drinks were particularly harmful for children’s dental health.

“Getting the kids a dental check-up before school goes back is a great way to ensure you start the school year on the right note,” she said.

Eligible children can access free dental treatment up to the value of $1,000 over two years at Latrobe Community Health Service community dental clinics. Families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A, Disability Support Pension or other relevant Australian Government payments are eligible.