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Is your child throwing away lunch at school?

Help your kids like school lunch
Posted at 1:49 PM, Aug 17, 2022

School lunch – two words that conjure up some pretty powerful memories, opinions and even emotions.

Sadly, one consistent theme when it comes to school lunch is food waste. So much food gets thrown away. Up to 75% of veggies and close to 50% of fruits get thrown out at school lunch. How can you help reduce the amount your child is wasting?

We turned to Trish Brimhall, RDN, CD, CLE for advise.

She says, "Have a conversation. Discuss what they like and don't like about school lunch and why they end up tossing a lot of their food. Some issues you may be able to find solutions for, and some may not be as easily resolved, but at least start with a conversation."

Another tip from Trish: Rethink home lunch portions. Just because you've always packed 8 baby carrots and a whole apple for their lunch doesn't mean it will make it into their mouth instead of the garbage can come lunch time. Sometimes altering portion sizes so that they don't overwhelm your child make a big difference in their willingness to eat.

Also, be creative and involve your child in the selection and preparation of their lunch. "Keeping in mind that helping kids develop life skills takes more patience than simply completing a task for them, you'll need to commit some time and patience to the habit of lunch packing. But encouraging creativity and allowing them some control over their food selection as well as teaching them food preparation skills is a big part of raising resilient, capable future-adults. Teach the life skill and help them think outside the traditional lunchbox ideas, Trish says.

Finally, Trish says watch how you speak about food, eating and bodies. Kids pick up early on food-shaming, dangerous diet behaviors, and body image dissatisfaction. Watch what and how you talk about your own and other's bodies, eating habits and food choices. Helping them to discover what foods make them feel healthy, energized, and happy goes a long way to protecting their relationship with food.

You can learn more from Trish at nutritiousintent.com.