Lifting the lid on packed lunches
Amy Roberts, Director of Nutrition and Food Development at Holroyd Howe, discusses the importance of packed lunches
School meals have been the focus of nutritional scrutiny for over a decade, but at Holroyd Howe we have now turned the focus to the often-neglected packed lunch.
Many pupils have more packed lunches than hot school meals as a result of extra-curricular trips and sporting fixtures. Never has it been so important, therefore, that the nutritional profile of these packed lunches is reviewed.
Past research into the content of packed lunches has shown that more often than not a packed lunch contains less energy (kcals), carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals and more salt than a typical school meal. This research was compared to the nutritional requirements of an average teenage pupil and not one who expends considerably higher amounts of energy due to an increased participation in sport during the school day.
At Holroyd Howe, our expert nutrition team have created guidelines for packed lunches that can be applied depending on the purpose of the packed lunch. The guidelines have been designed to meet the needs of pupils with different energy and nutritional requirements. For example, a pupil who is taking part in an all-day rugby tournament is going to have much higher energy requirements than a pupil on an educational field trip. For these reasons, we have created a three-tiered approach to packed lunches that our schools and chefs can choose to adopt.
These guidelines take into consideration the additional energy requirements of the pupils’ carbohydrate, protein and fluid requirements, ensuring their lunch, even though it may be eaten at the side of a field, is still providing the nutrients they need for optimal growth and development.