What Do Kids Really Eat at Lunchtime & What Are They Throwing Away?

school lunch

School lunches notoriously get a bad rap, and rightly so. Between unidentifiable meats, overly processed foods, and drinks made from powdery mixes, it’s no wonder that most hot lunches get tossed in the trash. The good news is that since Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010, school lunches have started to look (and taste) a whole lot better. That doesn’t mean that some of the nutritious, good-for-you foods are being eaten, though. A Labdoor infographic took a look at what schoolchildren are eating (and more to the point, what they’re not):

When it comes to school lunches, students throw away:

73% of their vegetables

47% of their fruit

19% of their entrees

25% of their milk

In the U.S. alone, that food waste equals $1.3 billion lost annually.

But it’s not just a loss of healthy food that’s problematic. Fewer than 50% of students meet the standards for vitamins A, C, and iron because they don’t eat the necessary daily requirements for these fruits, veggies, and grains.

So what can parents do who want to ensure that their kids aren’t eating junk come lunchtime? Here are some tips:

Eat healthy at home.

Having well-rounded meals at home can encourage healthy eating habits that continue when they’re at school.

Talk about it.

Sure, it’s easy to eat a candy bar, but a piece of fruit is a smarter, more nutritious option. Talk to your child about the foods that they might want to eat, and why other food choices can be healthier—and just as yummy.

Speak to your child’s pediatrician.

If you’re worried that your child isn’t getting all of their daily nutrition through food, you might want to consider a vitamin supplement. Schedule a meeting with your child’s pediatrician to see which one would be best for their age and dietary needs.



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