Are packed meals better than tuckshops?


In these tough financial times, making ends meet becomes problematic. Children’s health becomes even more compromised in as far as proving good nutrition is concerned.

School lunches and snacks become particularly trying in ensuring a balanced meal that will not go bad in the course of the day.

Snacktime: Pupils eating packed meals during break
Snacktime: Pupils eating packed meals during break

While some parents rely on school tuck shops to provide the necessary nutrition and fresh food, what should parents consider the most in helping their young scholars?

Nutritionist Eunice Nyirenda recommends packed meals for children as compared to pocket money, saying home-made foods provide variety.

“As caring parents, balanced diet becomes a priority and that supersedes the idea of giving children money. Most foods children buy with the money parents give them is junk food or sugary foods that is not only short of nutritive values, but also bad for their teeth.

“Parents must, therefore, take it upon themselves to watch what their children eat and that can be achieved is by preparing food themselves,” she said.

Nyirenda further said most food providers prioritise profits at the expense of quality food; hence, the need to pack food for children.

“With pocket money, children get the most affordable food which is usually sub-standard and made in unhealthy ways.

“Parents who value the importance of hygienic food for their children always make the best food with variety. Why then do parents still give their children the liberty of buying their own food?” Nyirenda wondered.

Pamela Kalonda, a retired teacher, said drug and alcohol abuse is on the increase as parents are providing pocket money to school children instead of packed meals.

“With cheap liquor sachets on the market, parents ought to be careful when giving children money because most children end up drinking. This applies to even cigarettes which are very cheap and sold in places surrounding schools,” she said.

Ngalonde further said some children starve themselves in trying to save money for other useless things such as toys.

“Children have ever collapsed in my class because they did not want to buy food while trying to save money for other things or their choice of food is so poor like chewing gums with celebrity posters attached.

“In trying to collect more posters, they buy more chewing gum, starving themselves, thereby, not only become unhealthy, but also stop concentrating in class due to starvation,” she added.

It is, therefore, high time parents learnt to manage their time and prepare food for school going children as often the issue of reporting late for duties arises. n

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