Parents back introduction of school meals in Australia

Aussie parents are backing the introduction of school provided meals and potentially willing to pay for ensuring national dietary requirements are being met with a range of quality options, according to preliminary results in a national survey.

The survey of parents with children aged 4-17 demonstrates their support for a national transformation of lunchbox meals relying on parents to make informed choices, says Flinders University Dietitian and PhD Candidate Alexandra Manson, who will present her findings at the Dietitians Australia Conference (14-16 August) in Adelaide.

The survey by Caring Futures Institute researchers aimed to explore current school food practices, and 71 parents took part. The results show 86% of parents were interested in introducing school provided meals, citing convenience, social and environment benefits, variability and food security as their primary reasons.

Alexandra Manson presenting preliminary findings from her PhD exploring parents interest in school meals.

Researchers say school provided meals have been shown to improve attendance, classroom attention, cognition, academic performance, social skills, nutrition and health of children, while also providing a way to address food insecurity.

Parents perceive current spending on lunchboxes to be around $4 per day. Investment of $4 per day in a school provided meals system would deliver benefits for parents and children alike. Parents preferring to maintain home-made lunches said nutrition and food safety concerns were their key reasons.

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