With the start of another school year upon us, parents are preparing themselves for the constant task of making lunch boxes.
Many parents feel pressure to include superfoods in the lunch box, which can be costly and impractical, especially if their child doesn’t like them! Yet while superfoods are hyped everywhere as being essential items, nutritionally they are not that different to other fruit and vegetables.
For many families, just getting something into a lunch box is super enough.
Australian children are going hungry more frequently than you or I would like to believe. In 2013, 15% of Australian children went to school without breakfast. And almost one in 10 children will not eat for an entire day on a regular basis.
Hunger in children has numerous psychological and behavioural consequences, and can have a lifelong impact on learning. Children who skip meals are more likely to be overweight, have a lower intake of fruit and vegetables, and can be more inactive.
There is also a lot of social stigma attached to what does (or doesn’t) go in the lunch box.
Children can be embarrassed as they are seen as different; parents too are embarrassed when schools do not understand their situation, leading to children staying home from school.
Teachers must often negotiate the minefield of school lunches; it’s a tricky task when what is in the lunchbox may be the culmination of complex factors including food insecurity, socioeconomic and cultural factors and family dynamics.
Teachers are called on to inspire health in their students and implement policies that do not consider all of these complexities.