President Obama’s official proclamation for National School Lunch week includes the following statement.

I, Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of October 10 through October 16, 2010, as National School Lunch Week. I call upon all Americans to join the dedicated individuals who administer the National School Lunch Program in appropriate activities that support the health and well-being of our Nation's children. 
Obama’s proclamation is specifically geared toward school lunch programs, but I believe an appropriate way to participate is to stop buying school lunches if they aren’t healthy.

For those of us with the resources to send our kids to school with a lunch made at home, let’s use this week to update our kids’ lunches to make them healthier. Making one or two small changes is a good way to start.

Here are seven small changes you can make in your kids’ bagged lunches.

  1. Switch out a healthy crunch for a not-so-healthy crunch. Ditch the potato chips or nacho chips and replace them with carrot sticks, celery sticks, nuts, or lightly salted air-popped popcorn.
  2. Send water or 100 percent fruit juice as a beverage instead of a soft drink.
  3. Switch out white bread with bread made with white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is a different grain than white flour or whole wheat flour. It has a lighter texture and color and flavor than whole wheat, but it has more nutrition than white flour.
  4. Ditch the sugar-laden jelly in your PB&J. Use a jelly or jam that’s sweetened with concentrated fruit juices instead of refined sugar.
  5. Make your own cookies or granola bars as treats instead of sending pre-packaged processed ones.
  6. Buy a good thermos, and send a hearty soup with vegetables as their lunch instead of a sandwich.
  7. Roll something up in a whole wheat tortilla instead of making a traditional sandwich. Kids who wouldn’t want lettuce and tomato on a sandwich will often accept them when they are rolled up with other ingredients like a taco. My boys actually love to take cold soft tacos to school in their lunch. I put grass fed, all-natural ground beef seasoned with taco seasonings, shredded low-fat cheese, lettuce and tomato on a soft taco shell, and they don’t mind that it’s cold.

Full disclosure: I think my school system serves terrible lunches, but I do allow my boys to buy twice a month. When the monthly calendar comes out, they each get to circle two days that they want to buy, and I let them chose any lunch they want.   

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

7 ideas for National School Lunch Week
President Obama has declared a National School Lunch Week to promote healthier school lunches. Shouldn’t that include bagged lunches, too?