Nutritionists Call for Healthy Lunch Program in Schools Across Australia
If you could put vegetables and whole foods in your child’s lunch box, would they eat them instead of the standard Australian packaged lunch?
So says one nutritionist, and she also thinks it could be cheaper. A Flinders University study found that 40% of schoolchildren make up unhealthy foods such as cakes, chips and cookies. Rather than smashing superfood bills or wasting precious time working in the kitchen, pediatrician Mandy Sacher wants people to go back to basics and avoid the usual prepackaged school snacks.
I would never send an adult to work with a jam sandwich, cheese stick and figurines, but for some reason we as a society think it’s okay for kids, she said. I really want to bridge the gap between what we perceive as healthy adult food and healthy baby food.
A nutritionist works with childcare centers and preschools to educate children early on to eat vegetables and help educate parents and the public about nutrition. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to sit in the kitchen for hours; Four simple ingredients can really make a delicious healthy meal.
She created a series of children’s meals for ABC and found that healthier meals were cheaper or as much as unhealthy ones. When you really give it up and go back to basics, you’re focusing on seasonal fruits and vegetables, plus you get whole grains and healthy, lean proteins, it’s not that expensive. The Darwin Journey Early Learning Center has watched children improve attention and behavior as they introduce healthier and healthier foods as part of their nutritional program.
Deputy director Emily Sharp said the film proved to be equally popular with families of children. I think this gave families a little more insight into how to sometimes hide vegetables in children’s meals and make their food more nutritious, while kids necessarily don’t like the taste of the food. Researchers are calling for high nutritional programs like this to be introduced across Australia, including in schools.
Professor Rebecca Golley of Flinders University believes a universal lunch program will help improve health and education outcomes. It is probably more achievable than we initially thought to change school meals in Australia, she said. Professor Golly said the nation needs to learn from places like France and Japan, where school lunch programs have led to better children’s health.
We want to see if there are any more sustainable options where industry, government and the nonprofit sector can work together to achieve something more sustainable and more nutritious to support children’s health and learning, she said.
Federal Labor MP and physician Mike Freelander said Australia has a serious health crisis and that nutrition will play a key role in tackling the problem. Some foods, highly processed foods, you can see the ads are 90 percent fruit, all natural and the like, he said. No, not all of them are natural, and many of these products are poisonous in the long term.
Dr. Freelander said it was not the parents’ fault and that policies, especially with regard to advertising, needed to be improved. It upsets me because I don’t blame the parents, I certainly don’t blame the children, but I know that eventually they will suffer from this and we must stop it.