When you were growing up, there was probably only one option for school lunch. Now, with many different dietary needs, and new laws encouraging whole grains as well as more servings of fruit and vegetables, cafeterias are a very different place. Schools offer a variety of choices, and have developed many different methods of encouraging students to choose healthier options. The most powerful is pre-ordering their lunches.
We know that a lot of adults don’t make great food choices when they’re already hungry; why do we expect students to do better? Schools in New York found that when they let students choose their lunch at the beginning of the day, almost a third of them chose a healthier entree, as opposed to just 15 percent when they had to choose in line.
When students choose healthier lunches, here’s what we know:
- They’re more focused and attentive in class
- They have fewer disciplinary issues
- They spend less time in line and more time eating their lunches
- They learn to choose healthier foods as parents support them in making good choices
- They get to take on independence as parents feel they’re ready for it
How well does your child relay what happened at school? When you pre-order your child’s lunch choices with them, you gain insight into what they’re eating at school. You can also:
- Keep track of what your child is spending their lunch money on, keeping your family budget on track
- Know that your child is getting a healthy and complete lunch, without the time consuming preparation of making lunch at home
- Start conversations around healthy foods, and why good food choices are important
When kids pre-order lunch, lunch programs and managers are able to do a more exact job of planning what foods to prepare.
This means that:
- They reduce waste and have more dollars to spend on foods students love
- They can plan ahead, building on popular and healthy choices to offer even better options
- They can be a partner in protecting students from the challenges of obesity and discipline issues
Pre-ordering lunch benefits everyone, from your child, to their school lunch program, to the entire district. It helps you be a part of encouraging your children to make healthy choices, and it supports the goals and values that you share at home.
If your school offers pre-ordering, find out how to get your child involved! If they don’t, contact your school lunch program to find out how this important service can be offered! Pre-ordering school lunches offers a clear benefit to kids and schools alike.