‘Unrealistic’ lunchbox suggestions adding pressure on parents
Victorian schools are issuing lunchbox guidelines and suggesting parents add faces to boiled eggs and make stripy "zebra sandwiches" to attract kids to healthy food.
Schools are telling parents to choose lunchbox items from six food groups, offering menu planners and telling them to bake food from scratch where possible.
Crunchy veggies, grainy bread and boiled eggs are in, muesli bars, processed meats, fruit juice and flavoured milks are out.
While officials insist it's leading to healthier lunches, some parents say it adds pressure to an already busy schedule.
Schools are also holding Healthy Hat Parades, Fruit Smoothie Days, Fruit and Vege Weeks and Reclaim the Lunchbox session to educate parents about nutrition. At many schools disposable food wrappings are prohibited.
One suggestion from the Victorian Better Health Channel is to make "zebra sandwiches" with white and brown bread.
It suggests parents beat kids' boredom by packing a different lunch every day, cut sandwiches in interesting ways or buy the "latest fashion in lunchboxes".
At Eltham North Primary suggestions include wholegrain sandwiches with toppings such as Swiss cheese, sliced gherkin, brie cheese, mashed anchovy and curried egg.
They also suggest drawing smiley "googy faces" on boiled eggs and making "ants on a log" with celery, cream cheese and sultanas.
Principal David Foley said parents were searching for ideas for quick, healthy lunchboxes. "They are putting a lot of effort into it - the response has been very positive," he said.
It comes amid a proliferation of lunchbox ideas for parents from websites and social media.
At one site, the Healthy Eating Hub, parents are being told to have a lunchbox meal plan and bulk cook foods such as muesli bars, zucchini slice, quinoa and linseed balls and goji choc oat slice.
Dr Sandro Demaio, VicHealth CEO, said a healthy lunchbox "is vital for helping our kids grow strong - but it doesn't need to be fancy or take hours to prepare".
"Life is busy, so keep it simple with wholesome lunchbox staples that are affordable and easy to make," he said.
Belinda Jennings, founder and CEO of website Mum Central, said some of the suggestions were "pretty unrealistic".
"In an ideal world, we'd have all the time to plan, prep and serve healthy lunchboxes for our kids," she said.
Seaford art teacher and mother-of-two Kerri Bevis makes lunches five days a week for her family.
"It takes a lot of forward thinking and planning," she said. "I try and be healthy and put in mini cucumbers and things like that."
Research from Flinders University looking at the lunchbox contents of children aged 5 to 12 found 40 per cent of the energy they consume at school comes from unhealthy food.
Originally published as 'Unrealistic' lunchbox suggestions adding pressure on parents