How you can help your kids get a healthier school lunch

“Trade you a bag of chips for a sandwich?”

Sarah Wu — aka blogger “Mrs. Q” — is taking school lunches by storm. The Chicago working mom’s blog (www.fedupwithlunch.com) and subsequent book of the same name is taking schools to task for offering students unhealthy meals. But every parent can take steps to make sure kids get nutritious lunches. “Parents really need to get involved,” Wu tells Metro. “The best way is to use the PTA. They should air their views and raise concerns.”

Because every school uses different caterers, change is on a case-by-case basis. “Parents should research the caterers,” Wu advises. “After parents complained, one provider in Chicago started using more local produce and antibiotic-free chicken. That’s a huge step. Also, take a look at what’s in the school vending machines.”

Packed lunches are an alternate option, but Wu has found that parents can be uneducated on what’s healthy and what’s not. “Parents have to educate themselves and read labels meticulously,” she adds.

Good nutrition sense, however, starts at home in the kitchen. Wu advises parents to involve their children with cooking. “Don’t be afraid to make a mess,” she says. “Show children how easy and fun it is to cook. It’s so helpful for their development of good eating habits.”

How Sarah Wu got started

In 2009, Wu — who has since won praise from Jamie Oliver and other healthy food activists — ate school lunch every day for a year and blogged about it under the pen name Mrs. Q. “I was amazed at how processed it was,” she says about the initial lunch that set her journey in motion. Processed food has little natural nutrition. “It was so unsatisfying. I felt hungry soon after.”


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