INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the school year approaches there are a lot of choices for kids and parents to make. What your child will eat for lunch is a big one. Do you pack a lunch? Or opt to buy lunch at school?
For many families one is the obvious choice. If your family qualifies for free or reduced lunch, the cafeteria is probably the way to go. Or perhaps your child has very specific food allergies and packing the is the only safe way for them to eat. But for many families it’s unclear what will work best for both parents and their kids.
“We serve about 5,500 lunches a day, so we have a very short window about two hours, we serve 5,500 kids,” Emily Cates, Avon Community School Corporation food services administrator, said. “We have requirements on calories, saturated fat, total fat… We also have a certain amount of fruits and vegetables we have to serve daily and we have vegetable sub-groups we have to serve.”
Cates said that’s why she believes a hot lunch is a good bet for parents, and the anti isn’t too bad either, depending on the school district.
But for moms with picky, even stubborn eaters, packing what they like may be the only way to ensure a healthy lunch in is in the bag or box.
“I don’t know for sure if it’s something they don’t like, if they really get a good lunch those day,” Michelle McNally said.
Her son and daughter prefer peanut butter and jelly and often applesauce or another fruit. She said with careful planning, the cost is comparable to the $1.70 she would pay in Lawrence.
“Like I know for sure, I can get what I need to send for them for less than that., for sure,” McNally said.
Still McNally will check the school menu and sometimes take advantage of it.
“Typically on a menu cycle, there is one day a month where they both like what they’re serving and it’s like this magical morning where we don’t have to get up and pack lunches, it’s like oh, my gosh, it’s like a vacation,” McNally said.
“Our balance is figuring out what those kids will eat and what they like,” Cates said.
If you are interested in hot lunches for your child, make sure you check to see if your district has an app to help with the process. Avon Community Schools Corporation has a really interactive app that includes pictures of the actual food they serve, not just stock photos, and also asks for reviews to continually improve their menu.