top of page
  • Writer's pictureSarah Nantel


If you have a young elementary-school aged child, you’ve likely run into the full lunch kits coming home from school. You ask your kid why they didn’t eat. Did they have time too eat? Did they like the food? Were they not hungry?

There are lots of reasons why your child may not be eating much at school. Maybe the packaging or containers are too hard to open, or the food is too difficult or slow to eat. Maybe didn’t like the food or really weren’t very hungry. More than likely they are distracted, and would rather talk with their friends than eat. It’s a big adjustment for most kids to start full day school! And it’s very possible that lunchtime is not long enough at their school. Or perhaps (as was the case with my son) he’s eating the wagon wheels and bags of chips that his friends gave him, instead of his lunch!

One point that may allow you to relax about how much your child eats at school, is the fact there are other opportunities during the day to make up for it. If your child has a decent breakfast, dinner, possibly an after-school snack and bedtime snack, he has lots of chances to consume the energy he needs in a day.

Here are a few things that may assist your child to eat their lunch at school, if you suspect they are hungry for lunch and not eating for other reasons:

  • Pack easy to eat, interesting foods. Kids like bite-sized pieces. Cut the sandwich into strips or at least quarters, so it’s less overwhelming. Or try something a finger-food bento-box lunch like mini muffins, small cheese cubes, rolled turkey slices and grapes. These are easy for little fingers to pick up and eat. Or invest in a thermos for leftovers, if your child tends to like dinner-type foods better than sandwiches.

  • Avoid empty calorie food that provides little nutrients, such as gummy snacks or chocolate granola bars. They’ll get eaten first and the rest of the nutritious food may get ignored. Make every bite count!

  • If your child’s school has eating time before recess, take it to the Principal or Parent Council as a suggestion to switch the two. Research shows that children not only consume more nutrients, but also behave better in the lunchroom, playground and classroom when they have recess before lunchtime.

While you can assist at offering interesting, easy-to-eat foods, always allow your child to eat the amount he or she wants without pressure to eat more. Or as the case with my 8 year old son – speak to his teacher and ask her to re-iterate the “no swapping food” classroom rule!

bottom of page