Healthy, tasty lunch boxes are being made by one of the Coast restaurant team each day to boost nutrients and save time and money at work.
Healthy, tasty lunch boxes are being made by one of the Coast restaurant team each day to boost nutrients and save time and money at work. Contributed

OPINION: Policing the school lunch content

"LUNCHBOX shaming" seems to have become the newest way to tell parents we're doing yet another thing wrong when it comes to raising our kids.

You may have seen social media posts circulating lately, shared by parents who've had a telling-off in the form of a nasty note about an item in their child's lunchbox - usually something like a home-made slice or a packet of chips.

I haven't had such a note come home, nor have I actually heard of such a thing happening at my daughter's school, so thankfully I'm not speaking from personal experience. But I'm pretty sick of the food police - no, let's call them the everything police - who seem ready to jump on any opportunity to scold parents and tell them what they should be doing. Never mind good old-fashioned common sense, we seem to need "experts" telling us how to live every aspect of our lives.

I have a pretty fussy kid. I'd love to send her to school with carrot sticks and hummus dip for lunch, but if I was going to do that I may as well cut out the middle man and throw her lunch straight in the bin. I wrack my brain every day to think of things she may eat that also have some nutritional substance. So it's not as simple as assuming all parents are too lazy and/or stupid to pack a healthy lunch. Sometimes you have to do what you can with what you've got and strike a reasonable balance.

However, as indignant as the "everything police" make me feel, it's hard to ignore the rising level of obesity in our kids, not to mention the ones at the other end of the scale who are neglected and not provided for. Let's face it, the kid who comes with the home-made chocolate slice is probably not the kid we need to worry about - he has someone at home who cares enough to bake and provide home-made food.

I don't know that more education is necessarily the solution. It's not working so far. Is it time to start looking at providing lunches in Australian schools? All our current system is doing is chastising people who are mostly doing the right thing by their kids, while the ones who don't care continue to not care. For some kids a school-provided lunch might be the only proper meal they get all day.

The obvious question is how our country would fund such a thing. I don't know and I don't pretend to know. Maybe a sliding payment scale similar to the current childcare system could work, but of course the equipment needs to be provided first.



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