Did you know that most schools in Canada don’t have healthy school lunch programs? Instead, children may be given foods that while will fill their stomachs for a bit, don’t provide the nutritional value to get them through their day.
Children need certain nutrients for their developing minds and bodies. When they get them it results in fewer absences, better grades, and more active students. Schools that have these programs are regulated to make sure that the foods contain these essential vitamins.
To help you see why you should look into a school with one of these programs for your child, here are a complete list of the benefits they’ll receive.
Your child’s lunch provides about a third of the calories that they will consume in a day. That makes it even more vital that they eat foods that are rich in nutrients that they need.
Healthy school lunch programs create meals with this concept in mind. Rest assured when your child eats them they are getting plenty of vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. All are critical for your child’s development and yet many children don’t get enough of them.
For your child to remain healthy, they shouldn’t take in more than 25 to 35 percent of fats a day. Most of the fats they consume should be healthy ones that come from eating fish, lean meats, nuts, and veggie oils.
It shouldn’t be saturated fats from foods like pizza and cookies no matter how good school pizza is. Healthy school lunch programs keep these regulations in mind. Your child won’t receive over the recommended amount of fats they need and saturated fats are kept at an absolute minimum.
When there isn’t a school lunch program in place it’s possible that your child is taking in harmful saturated fats. These saturated fats are the source of childhood obesity.
Obesity can lead to all sorts of problems for the child later such as diabetes, and high blood pressure. When your child is taking in good fats, they will be kept fuller longer. This will keep them from reaching for unhealthy snacks (or a snack at all) when they get home and prevent them from gaining too much weight.
If your child doesn’t eat a healthy lunch, it will set them up for failure for the rest of the day. They won’t have the energy they need to get through class, go to extracurricular school activities, or get their homework done. They may also be more likely to reach for an unhealthy snack when they get home from school.
When your child gets a healthy lunch they will stay full and have the energy they need to get through all of their school and afterschool duties.
It will promote their grades as well. They’ll score higher on tests because they’ll be able to focus better.
It’s important to teach children healthy habits. When they are offered healthy foods during school lunch they’ll be more likely to reach for these options when they aren’t at school as well. You can continue to enforce these behaviors at home.
Offer healthy snack options when they come home from school in the afternoons. Request that nutritious options are served during school events and fundraisers. Get involved.
School lunch programs have a very small variety of drinks that your child can get with their food. These are unflavored low-fat milk, basic water, 100 percent fruit and veggie juices, and low-calorie carbonated drinks.
This controls the amount of harmful sugar that goes into your child’s body through beverages. Without lunch programs, your child may be more likely to reach for sodas in the vending machines if their school has them.
This is another one that you can continue at home. Chop up fruit and infuse it with water. Your child will love the colors and taste.
Students who receive school lunches come to school more often and go to extracurriculars after class. For some children, it may be the only meal they get during the day and so they don’t want to skip it.
Children who don’t get enough nutrients through their daily meals are more vulnerable to respiratory issues and other medical problems that will keep them out of class. School lunches keep them well all year round.
Again, these lunch programs give them a boost of energy so they’ll want to attend after school functions.
Children who get a nutritious meal in the afternoon will display better behavior than children who don’t. Kids who don’t eat get angry. They won’t want to have anything to do with their fellow classmates.
When they get a full stomach they will be less grumpy so they can work on group projects easier. They will also be less likely to cause any huge classroom disruptions.
These programs introduce children to brand new, interesting foods that they may have neglected to try before. They’ll be able to grow an appreciation for the foods of other cultures and associate them with healthy options.
These meal programs are communal. Children eat and experience new foods together. This creates positive peer pressure to at least try the meals on their plates.
Every school should offer healthy school lunch programs. They provide children with the nutrients and energy they need to get through their day, keep children in class, prevent harmful chemicals from getting into their bodies, and for some children, it’s the only meal they’ll get all day.
So, contact your child’s school and talk to them about lunch programs. Set your child up for success.