Healthy school lunches & snacks

Written by kristine brite
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Healthy school lunches & snacks
Vegetables should be part of a healthy school lunch. (vegetables image by cherie from

Healthy school lunches and snacks should follow government nutrition guidelines. With childhood obesity a problem in this country preparing food that is nutritious for school lunch is important. Schools should stay away from snacks and lunches that are high in fat, salt and sugar. Empty calorie foods like candy and soda should also be avoided to make school food healthy.

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Nutrition Recommendations

When planning school lunches and snacks, knowing nutrition guidelines for children is important in making sure the meals are healthy. Every day you should eat at least three servings of whole grains, so snacks and lunches should avoid simple carbohydrates and include complex carbs like whole grains. You should mix up the colour and type of vegetable eaten so make sure lunches include a variety of vegetables. Avoid fruit juice and instead include a variety of whole fruits. Other suggestions include eating low or fat-free milk, getting fat from oils like olive oil or nuts and picking low-fat, lean meats.


Serve lunches that make for a balanced meal. For example, serve a vegetable at every lunch. Some vegetables that are easy to make and serve include broccoli and green beans.Add leafy green vegetables as often as possible because they are full of important nutrients. Try to be considerate of special needs diets. Some children are lactose intolerant so make sure dishes are available that don't have milk. Other children come from vegetarian families so make sure to serve a vegetarian dish each day that has protein from bean sources. Children enjoy items like pizza so serving pizza once in awhile is almost unavoidable, but make sure to include a vegetable and fruit item with the pizza. Serve only low fat or lean milk to drink with the meals.


Sometimes parents bring in snacks and other times teachers serve snacks on special days. The treats can be healthy and still be a hit with the children. Fruit is a good snack idea and replacement for sugary treats. Serve fruits like grapes, watermelon, strawberries, apples, bananas or raspberries. Other healthy treats include fruit leather, applesauce and crackers. Whole grain products like pitas or pretzels are also a healthy snack. Vegetables with a low-fat dip are an important part of a healthy diet.

School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program provides free or low-cost nutritionally balanced meals to students in private and state schools. Students must come from families that qualify financially by having a low income. The meals must meet nutrition standards, including that no more than 30 per cent of calories come from fat and that no more than 10 per cent come from saturated fat. School lunches also provide a third of the daily recommended amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium. The school lunch program serves millions of children each year.

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