26 September 2023

School parents play cool with healthy lunches

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NSW Health is urging parents and carers to make sure lunchboxes stay cool, fresh and healthy as kids return to school this week.

Director for Population Health and Strategic Programs at NSW Health, Megan Cobcroft said children needed the right fuel to help set them up for a productive day, “so parents and carers should take extra care to ensure the right kind of nourishment is provided to support learning and development”.

“Kids need to be fuelled and hydrated to learn and play at school,” Ms Cobcroft said.

“Keeping lunchboxes cool is important to help foods stay fresh and appealing, and to stop them from spoiling, which can cause children to become unwell,” she said.

“Use a cooler bag or insulated lunch box with a freezer brick or frozen bottle of water.”

Ms Cobcroft said children received about a third of their daily food intake during the school day, so it was important to provide healthy options.

“Incorporating healthy options such as wholegrain bread or wraps with lean meat, chicken, boiled eggs, cheese or falafel, or even lentil patties are a good way to ensure school kids are getting a good balanced diet that encourages wellbeing,” she said.

“Kids love little vegetables that are easy to eat like carrot and celery sticks or cherry tomatoes.”

She also recommended small fruit such as grapes and strawberries, or cut fruits like melon, which could be packed in small containers or snap-lock bags.

Ms Cobcroft said while some packaged snacks could be convenient, they often contained too much sugar or salt and not enough healthy wholegrains.

She said parents and carers should compare the Health Star Rating of snacks to choose the healthiest option within a product category and “a good rule of thumb is to look for at least 3.5 stars or more”.

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