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Easy Steps to Your Child's Nutrition

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School Lunches, Healthy Choices

Packing up a healthy school lunch is easy with these tasty tips.

So, Are School Lunches Unhealthy?

Millions of American school children line up for school lunch every day. Even so, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) catches a lot of flak.

"Could school lunches be better? Sure. But the perception that school lunch is bad is largely unfair," says Andrea Giancoli, MS, RD, nutrition policy coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Children who participate in the NSLP are twice as likely to eat vegetables, consume more fruit, and take in less sugar at lunch as kids who don't eat NSLP meals, according to a study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research.

The problem comes when schools allow snack bars, vending machines, a la carte meal choices, and school stores that offer higher-fat fare. Then it's more likely that kids will make a meal from chips, sugary soft drinks, Frenchfries, candy, ice cream, and other low-nutrient foods.

So it turns out you don't need to choose packed lunches vs. school lunches. Just be sure kids take along a home-made healthy meal, or understand that, when eating lunch at school, you expect them to choose lower-fat entrées, nonfat or low-fat milk, and a fruit or vegetable.

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Reviewed on May 04, 2010
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