Parents Need to Stop Slapping Together PB&Js: School Lunch Is Better for Your Kid

Brown-bag lunches are stuffed with desserts and chips—and it's not helping.
(Photo: Robert Kirk/Getty Images)
Dec 23, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

Moms and dads of America: Put down the snack packs of sugary pudding and those little baggies of greasy chips.

The scientific studies are starting to pile up—homemade lunches are worse than cafeteria food when it comes to nutrition. Many parents may think they're sparing their kids unhealthy food from the lunch lady. In fact, brown bags are being used to smuggle in lunchroom trading gold that never appears on the federally sanctioned menus: "About 90 percent of lunches from home contained desserts, snack chips, and sweetened beverages," one study found.

At least three studies are cited in a new story from The New York Times, and they all have found that the current school lunch program, which requires more fruits and vegetables (and not just potatoes), is better than the contraband junk foods parents are habitually packing their kids.

The National School Lunch Program has been a political football since the Obama administration pushed for implementation of healthier standards. Local officials also fretted that kids wouldn't eat less fatty fare, but nutrition experts say if you expose them to it enough, they'll clean their plates.

Nearly 32 million of the more than 50 million children in public schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, rely on these lunches, the Times reports.

The administration's push for less salt and a mandate to only serve whole grains were reversed in the final federal spending bill that the Senate approved on Dec. 13.