Helping your child pack a lunch for school is no easy feat. Schools in the Ottawa area have a plethora of school, board and ministry level policies that dictate what foods can and cannot be in your child’s lunch box.
In an effort to improve the total nutrition of our children, the Ministry of Education has endeavoured to create a School Food and Beverage policy which dictates what foods can be sold in schools. They have divided foods into 3 categories;
Sell Most – greater than 80%
Sell Less – less than 20%
Not Permitted for Sale
To check out the ‘quick’ 35 page reference guide to the Ministry of Education’s School Food and Nutrition policy visit here.
Then there are the guidelines applied to what kids bring into schools for their own consumption. Special considerations for children allergies, nutritional needs and the environment have significant impact on food choices. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jam on white bread in the handy clear plastic baggie. Making lunches and choosing snacks for picky little eaters, when prep time is a factor, well, it becomes a bit of a daily nightmare.
For ‘lunches from home’ most schools have the following guidelines:
No nuts at all
No “junk” – ie chocolate, gummy candies, hard candies, lollipops etc.
Litterless – ie no plastic baggies (even if you reuse them)
Each kid is different and has an ever changing palate. That said, as a health care provider, I cannot emphasize enough the need for us responsible adults to keep offering vegetables (not just fruits) to our kids. Too many studies show that kids who don’t eat veggies grow up to be adults who don’t’ eat veggies, which will (and does) have undeniable negative health outcomes. Taste buds are changing, so try a new veggie every week. One that may have been discarded last month may now be a smash success!
What goes into the lunchbox? Here are some kid tested and approved suggestions from many parents.
Fruit – add goat cheese
Apple slices with sunbutter or soft goat cheese
Crackers – whole grain, gluten-free such as Mary’s crackers
Hummus with veggies or crackers
Veggie sticks – carrot, pepper, radish, celery, raw zucchini, raw asparagus, snap peas, cherry tomatoes etc.
Goat yoghurt with added berries and chia seeds
Chia seed pudding – made with nut free milk, such as coconut milk
Chia seed pudding ideas from the Huffington Post (some contain nuts)
Avocado – squeeze with lemon to keep it green
Dry cereal – ‘Power O’s’ (Love Grown brand)
Left-overs from last night’s dinner
Chili or stew
Curries or dahl
Porridge left-over from the morning – can add apples, cinnamon, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla
Whole grain bread, deli meats, condiments, cheese, lettuce
Ezekiel bread sandwich with Sunbutter
Water with berries or cucumber or mint leaves for flavour
Lunchbots stainless steel containers, which stack well
Steeltainer container, with leak-proof lid
Stores such as Tera 20 in Ottawa have a variety of lunch container options to buy