With students across the state facing a hot start to the new school year, NSW Health experts are urging parents and carers to take extra care when packing lunches and snacks.
Christine Innes-Hughes, Deputy Director of the Office of Preventive Health and NSW Healthy Children Initiative manager, said with more high temperatures forecast for this week it’s important to keep food cool while stored in children’s lunchboxes.
“Kids need to be fuelled and hydrated well and their lunch needs to be safe,” she said.
“Keeping the food in the lunchbox food cool is very important to stop food from spoiling, which could make a child unwell, and it will be more appetizing too.
“Try using a cooler bag or an insulated lunch box and don’t forget to include a freezer brick or frozen bottle of water. It not only keeps food cool but provides a cool drink.”
In terms of what to pack for a healthy lunch, Ms Innes-Hughes suggests vegetables, fruit, yoghurt or milk poppers, wholegrain bread, wraps, crackers, noodles, pasta or rice, lean meat, chicken, eggs, cheese or legumes such as falafel or lentil patties.
“Children get about a third of their daily food intake during the school day, so it’s important to give them healthy options,” she said.
“Kids love carrot and celery sticks, corn cobs, baby cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and snow peas. Small fruit such as grapes and kiwi fruit can be packed in small containers or snap lock bags.”
While some packaged snacks such as muesli bars, plain rice cakes and air popped popcorn can sometimes be practical additions in lunchboxes, the best way to choose the healthiest options is by choosing those with a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars or above.
“Make sure that any food that comes home in the lunchbox is not eaten and wash and dry the lunch box thoroughly ready for the next day.”
In 2018-19 the NSW Government is investing $38 million to tackle obesity, $25 million of which has been allocated specifically to fighting childhood obesity.
For healthy lunchbox ideas visit: Healthy Kids.