US Students Do Better With School Meals

The Lempert Report
December 19, 2014

Is it healthier for school kids to bring their food from home, or eat food the school provides?

According to research published in JAMA Pediatrics,elementary school students are more likely to eat breakfast at school if it’s provided in the classroom. Additionally, breakfast in the classroom was tied to better school attendance.

Researchers looked at 446 U.S. schools with breakfast programs and found about 58 percent offered breakfast in the classroom. Compared to schools that offered breakfast elsewhere, classroom breakfast increased participation in the program.

The second study, also published in JAMA pediatrics, found that lunches prepared at home may be lacking in nutritional quality compared to those made at the school. Conducted at 12 Houston schools, researchers compared the foods elementary and middle school students brought from home and the amount they ate to the guidelines set by the National School Lunch Program. Overall, lunches from home contained more sodium than guidelines recommend, but less fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk. Ninety percent of meals brought from home contained desserts, snacks and sugary drinks, which aren’t allowed in the school lunch program.

While school lunch programs are constantly being examined and improved upon to meet nutritional needs, often parents who make lunch at home don’t know the best options. Retailers can help here and display year round tips and ideas for healthy nutritious lunch options. 

Whether its sandwich suggestions or snacks, like pre-cut fruit and veggies, parents are always in need of quick, healthy ideas especially items that can be thrown into a lunchbox. For the many parents who prefer to send kids off to school with a prepackaged lunch nutritional guidance and some healthy options from their neighborhood supermarket would go a long way.