During Kids Eat Right Month™, Academy Recommends Parents, Kids Team Up for Healthful Lunches

August 20, 2018

CHICAGO – Back to school means coming up with creative, nutritious ideas for your child's lunch that they will actually want to eat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends parents and children team up to pack a lunch they'll love.

"Children enjoy being given the responsibility, so they'll be more likely to eat a lunch they've helped plan," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Whitney Linsenmeyer.

"You and your child should agree on what goes into every lunch: some protein, a grain, at least one fruit and one vegetable, a calcium-rich dairy product or beverage and perhaps a small sweet or additional snack," Linsenmeyer said. "Make a checklist or spreadsheet of what your child likes in each category to help you stay on track."

Here are some kid-friendly lunch ideas:

  • Wraps come in a variety of flavors
  • Cracker sandwiches (lean meats or low-fat cheese on round or square whole-grain crackers)
  • Little salads with cheese, nuts or beans
  • Lettuce wraps or a slice of turkey wrapped around a cheese stick and sweet bell pepper
  • Fruit or vegetable kabobs or raw vegetables for dipping, such as carrots and celery sticks
  • Individual packages of unsweetened applesauce or a seedless, easy-peel orange.

"Don't forget food safety when packing your child's lunch. Use an insulated lunch bag and keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Encourage your child to wash their hands before eating. At home, wash their lunch box often," Linsenmeyer said.

School lunches are also a great option for students.

"Review the lunch menus with your kids, and pick options that are appealing to them," Linsenmeyer said. "When kids eat a school lunch, they are more likely to consume milk, meats, grains and vegetables, which means they'll eat more nutrients over the course of an entire day. Cost- and nutrition-wise, school lunch is a great value."

The Academy recently reaffirmed the benefits of federally funded nutrition programs for children and adolescents, such as school lunches, in an updated position paper "Child and Adolescent Federally Funded Nutrition Assistance Programs," published in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Kids Eat Right Month, created in 2014, mobilizes registered dietitian nutritionists in a grassroots movement to share healthful eating messages that help families adopt nutritious eating habits.

The Kids Eat Right Month media kit is available and includes the 2018 Kids Eat Right Month graphic, infographics, social media resources and much more. To schedule an interview or segment with a children's nutrition expert, email media@eatright.org.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. It funds scholarships and awards, public awareness and research projects and Academy strategic initiatives, and is the largest provider of scholarships and awards in the field of dietetics. Visit the Academy Foundation at www.eatrightfoundation.org.