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Healthy Packed Lunches - a reminder

 Most days, you can find me on the salad bar during school dinner time, but that doesn't stop me from walking around, paying attention to what children are enjoying eating, their table manners and politeness. As a school which prides itself on supporting healthy lifestyles - I am also keen to see what children or parents are opting for in packed lunches.

 As a parent, who moved from packed lunches to school dinners, I can understand the constant struggle to find something my children would eat, which was both healthy and nutricious.

 Now, across the UK it's pretty straightforward - there are no official rules as it's down to individual schools in England, the Department for Education says, to decide what their policy is on food brought in from home.

 At Seaburn Dene Primary School, we don't have a policy on what makes a healthy packed lunch, I like to rely on parents using their common sense. However, from my observations this week, particularly on the amount of chocolate I seemed to have seen, I may need to review this. It was alarming the amount of food which children were eating: high in sugar, fat and salt.

  It is worth reminding, that for parents making up packed lunches, the Children's Food Trust recommends they include a piece of food from each of the following categories:

  • starchy foods like bread, pasta or potatoes
  • fruit and veg, so sticks of cucumber, celery or carrot, alongside a piece of fruit
  • meat, fish, eggs and beans - strips of chicken or bean dips, it suggests
  • dairy food such as cheese in a sandwich or a yoghurt or fromage frais
  • a drink - milk or water are the best choices for children's teeth, the trust says, and if you want to pack fruit juice, stick to a 150ml portion

 Foods and drinks high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt, like crisps and chocolate biscuits, should be avoided, the trust has said.

 Chocolate bars are not a suitable part of a balanced packed lunch in our school. The sugar content alone - a Wispa bar has five teaspoons of sugar in and high in fat - just points to how unhealthy they are, particularly as children would happily discard their sandwiches to get to their sweet treat.  I will be reminding parents by letter this week as we have an obligation to ensure our children have access to a balanced, healthy packed lunch - the same as our children on school dinners. We need to continue to promote healthy choices for our children. This means making sure our children's packed lunches don't fall short of food standards designed to give them the very best start in life.