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Healthy & Fun Lunch Ideas for Kids
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Thanks for the great article! :)
Help them to do it and it will mean more to them.
All very good ideas. Allowing them to help/handle the food makes more memories for them to eat/choose better.
My kids' school has a peanut allergy table that kids can choose to sit at. Other than that, there are no restrictions as to what they can bring (with the exception of no food/baked goods to share for birthdays, etc). I can't believe how strict some of these schools are! People have all kinds of dietary differences, so I understand the struggle. However, if there are reasonable accommodations (e.g. a peanut allergy table) for major allergy concerns, the other kids should not have to change their eating habits.
My kids always bring their lunch because they only get 20 minutes. The line to buy lunch takes about 10-15 minutes. So kids get 5 minutes to inhale their lunch? Plus it teaches kids to eat super fast...which we all know is not ideal (until you're a mom with a baby & have no choice Haha!).
If a kid can't survive public school b/c of food allergies, they shouldn't be there. Period. Sign them up with K12, and dictate the environment they should be in. Trying to tell public schools what kids can and can't bring for lunch is never going to be successful. (And let's be honest, in the "real world," you're not going to be able tell your coworkers what they can and can't bring to work b/c you're "allergic.")
Do you really want to raise your kids in a bubble? Don't get me wrong, it's been done before, but is that going to help them as a long-term solution? You can't make the whole school the bubble. Your home, maybe, but not everything outside it.
No wonder so many people home school, it's impossible to always be safe with what you pack for lunch, can't expect every one to get it right and children to police themselves 100%, teachers should not have that burden. Keep deathly allergic kids at home.
There's a child in my child's fourth grade class this year with many allergies. Her parents have requested that all food brought to school, either to be shared or in a lunchbox, be prepackaged and clearly labeled. I'm fine with only sending food in a package if it's to be shared, but I think the insistence on pre-packaged foods in my son's lunchbox is going too far. I prefer he have fresh foods that I prepare. I'll do my best to avoid the foods that cause her the most serious harm, but the list of things she has issues with is over 2 pages long. Many other parents and the principal agreed with me. I can sympathize with another mother who just wants to keep her child safe, but expecting that kind of constant vigilance from 23 other parents whose children whose diets are not so sensitive can be a recipe for disaster.
I am a school nurse and yes kids do have allergies that could be life threatening. Unfortunately kids now have allergies to about everything. Beef, cinnamon, metal, strawberries, etc. I would have to agree with RENEETC1, where does it stop. One of my favorite classes in college was Sociology. The teacher said something one day that really made me think- "for every law put into place is another right taken away". I want to advocate for all of the kids, not just kids that have health issues. We had a parent that wanted all of the kids on a school bus to not have anything that her child was allergic to (many things) when traveling to an extra curricular function. The school turned this request down. When the mom said something to me, while I understand her concern, I also want to think about all the other students. I think it is responsible to do everything we can to avoid exposure as long as it doesn't infringe upon others. We need to try and meet in the middle.
RENEETC1: You do realise how serious nut and peanut allergies can be, right? We're not talking the gut discomfort that arises in a lactose-intolerant person consuming dairy (which, unpleasant though it is, is unlikely to cause serious damage in a one-off situation). People with nut allergies can get anaphylaxia which, if not promptly treated, restricts the airways and leads to asphyxiation.
Yes, schools can be overzealous (many people with nut/peanut allergies only have issues if they actually ingest the food, yet the entire school is prohibited from bringing PB&J sandwiches on their behalf), but we are talking about a potentially fatal reaction here. It's comparing two unlike things to suggest that banning a fatal allergen leads to banning a non-fatal intolerance/sensitivity.
I think that the school systems are overdoing it with foods that can't be brought to school. A lot of school do not allow nuts of any kind. What's next, no milk or milk products because some children are lactose intolerant? No breads because some children have a problem with gluten? What about children who are allergic to strawberries or other fruits and veggies?
If a child has food allergies they know it, and know they are not supposed to eat it. Type 1 diabetics have certain foods they can't eat. Education begins in the home, not with the government trying to regulate every part of our lives.
my mom packed my lunch every day when i was in school. while there were definitely those days that i traded my grapes for someone else's chips, or brought my allowance money so i could buy an ice cream, overall im extremely glad i spent the majority of my formative years eating healthy. my weight gain was most definitely due to emotional eating and not knowing the difference between stress and actual hunger. now that im on the path to a healthier lifestyle, ive really started to appreciate all the ways in which my mother encouraged healthy eating growing up. im finally putting into practice all of the little things she taught me along the way about cutting unnecessary calories when cooking and eating balanced meals.
These are great suggestions but I have a critique. Peanut butter may not be a safe choice for lunches due to anaphylaxis concerns. WOWbutter is an alternative that tastes like peanut butter, is healthy and is safe for your child's classmates.
I love the ideas and I incorporate many of them into my own lunches. As a teacher I get about 30 minutes for lunch and that includes walking my students to the lunch room, getting me back to the teacher lunch area / work area. I get to eat and use the rest room and pick up my students all in 30 minutes, so the pre-chop, pre-peel is essential. Our students get 20 minutes in the lunch room, and any left overs must be tossed. Reusable container are also tosses. Boxes and insulated bags must be empty of all food when they leave. So much for buying nice containers to pack for the child. Also we send home a list of un approved foods each year, based on current student population and allergies - I mean anaphalactic (sp) response allergies. They may include peanuts, tree nuts, citrus (that was a new one for me), eggs, wheat, soy, ......... We are not allowed to remove those children to a different area for their protection, federal full inclusion laws do not just apply to Special Education students. Our school was monitored last year for Federal law compliance to our food service program. As a public school we receive subsidy money for the school lunch program. It was a real learning experience. Nice to say, we passed everything except minutes of table time for eating. So we adjusted the minutes at table, good for our little ones, who eat more slowly. We are also part of a huge program that serves only whole grains, with fresh fruit and fresh veggies every day, 1% milk, and reduced fat proteins. Also, increasing the number of times we serve legumes in lunches. It is taking some time for students to adjust to newer healthier menus. Our 3rd grade grows a spring to summer garden every year, and those foods are scrubbed for raw sampling or steamed for a cooked sampling. A couple of our aides volunteer to provide summer care, and there are summer veggies when they return to school in August. We are a relatively small district of about 4000 students. Most of our schools have gardens, our High School has a green house and raises vegetable and flower seedlings for the schools and for the community.
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