Member Login
Blog Categories
Follow Us

Home lunch falls short in nutrition - parents may need a little help

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 by Maggie LaBarbera

It's tough being a parent and juggling all the responsibilities that come along with the job.  Maybe we need a little help to get it right.  A new study says that "Backpack lunches flunk nutrition".

Some of the factors that are making it harder for parents to make a healthier lunch: parents are 
  • juggling time
  • cost
  • convenience
  • what is acceptable to their children 
These factors don't always line up with nutrition.
The study, conducted by Tufts University, looked at over 600 3rd and 4th graders lunches, lunches that were brought from home.  These children were from 12 different schools and 6 different school districts.
The researchers, compared the children's lunch brought from home to the national school lunch program standards (NSLLP) and the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CAFCP)
They found: 
  • only 27% of the lunches met at least three of the five NSLP standards
  • only 4% of snacks met at least two of the four CAFCP standards
  • Lunches were comprised more of packaged foods than anything else,
  • Almost a quarter of the lunches lacked what would be considered an entrée, such as a sandwich or leftovers, and were instead made up of a variety of packaged snack foods and desserts
Theses standards for a nutritious lunch emphasize
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low- or non-fat dairy

This is consistent with a few of the other studies out there that also looked at lunches brought from home.  More than 40% of children bring their lunch from home.  

So helping parents find simple and practical solutions to providing healthy foods for lunch and a balanced meal is just as important as the NSLP guidelines.  

Nourish Thought for the Day:  

Have children help plan their lunch using the My Plate food groups as a guide. Pick one food item from each group for a balanced meal.

Here are some great easy resources that parents can use to build a healthy lunch for their child.  Try to include at least 4 food groups and minimize convenient prepackaged foods.

Lunch Tips for Parents

Packing a Healthy Lunch Box…easier than you think!

Quick and easy back to school healthy lunches for kids- New fun sandwiches to pack, kids easy lunch box ideas, healthy eating tips, and nutritious recipes kids will love! Our fun food ideas make it easier to pack healthier foods for your child's school lunch box.

Parents Guide To Making a Healthy Lunch For Kids

Our dietitians share their tips for what ingredients makes a healthy lunch box for children. School lunch article with suggestions on buying school lunch and tips for making a well balanced healthy lunch for school aged children.

Tips For Parents - What To Do When Children Won't Eat Their Lunch

Solutions For Children Who Ditch Their lunch. Tips and suggestions from our dietitians on what to do with kids that throw away their lunch.

Healthy Lunch Foods For Children Organized By Food Groups

Create a balanced lunch that meets the MyPlate nutrition guidlelines. Food ideas and suggestions for creating a healthy well-balanced lunch for children from each of the five food groups. Lunchbox ideas from the food groups of My Plate.







The photos displayed on this website were purchased legally from,, and All clipart displayed on this website is the exclusive property of