My son has been throwing away his school lunch for over a year

I hate to break it to you…  You know that lunch you packed for your kid this morning? In. The. Bin.

Every day thousands of Australian mums lovingly pack their children’s recess and lunch, but are their kids really eating them? The sad fact is that most children will throw out at least part of their school lunch and parents will never know. So, what do we do about it?

One of my best friends is also my son’s best friend’s mother.

I’ll just give you a moment with that one…

Anyway, she told me that she recently discovered her son was regularly throwing his lunch away because he didn’t like what she’d been packing for him. I boasted that my son Philip would never do that and the son in question – who was in the room at the time – giggled.

He giggled.

Jo and son Philip

I turned to him in horror.

"Do you throw your lunch away?"

"Just the apples, and sometimes the sandwiches, if it's bread I don't like."

I starting pumping him for information as he tried to back out of the room. The bottom line is that I am never allowed to pack him apples ever again. They have been going in the bin for an entire year. He might eat interesting fruit like grapes or nectarines but sometimes he just wants to play so has one bite, throws the rest away and starts running away.

He always eats his weekly lunch order because lunch orders are special and fresh and delicious.

Oh, and he might need a break from Vegemite sandwiches. And Cruskits. And Corn Thins.

I felt like I'd been slapped. I always go to so much effort to pack his lunch. I open discussions about it in case his tastes have changed, ask if there's anything he'd like me to start including, anything he's sick of, suggestions he'd like to make. I WAS A GOOD LUNCH PACKING MUMMY.


Now, I am filled with doubt. What do I pack him now? How do I decide? How will I know if he's eaten his lunch or not?

Perhaps I should take his confession as good news. Most children will throw away at least part of their recess and lunch. It's normal. So stop feeling the pressure and just pack whatever I think is best. If he eats it, he eats it. If he doesn't, he doesn't.

But actually, that's not the real issue. The real issue is that it's an intolerable waste of food. What kind of children value food so little that they simply throw it away, with hundreds of children their age die around the world from starvation? The idea of throwing away an apple because it is green not red or throwing away a packet of chips because it is chicken flavour instead of salt and vinegar is ludicrous.

Have I raised a thoughtless, ungrateful child?

According to, 24 to 35% of school lunches end up in the bin. These startling school lunch waste statistic will give all parents who pack their children's lunches pause. It's chilling.

So, I've decided to wave the white flag. I have explained that while I am happy for him to choose not to eat part of his lunch, he is not to throw it away. He is to bring it home. That way I can put it away for another day. I will not get angry, I will not lecture him. I simply want him to eat when he is hungry and stop when he's full without wasting an incredible amount of food. The proviso is that he eats a good breakfast every day. At least I can make sure he doesn't throw away any of that. And he's happy with that.

I don't care if all his friends do it. I don't care if he can't be bothered walking to his bag to put it away. It is non-negotiable. No more throwing away his lunch.

Have you ever discovered your child is throwing away either recess or lunch? How did you try and get them to stop?