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J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jan;109(1):141-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.010.

Do sack lunches provided by parents meet the nutritional needs of young children who attend child care?

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  • 1Department of Human Ecology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. sjsweitz@mail.utexas.edu

Abstract

Recent changes in Texas state regulations of child-care foodservice have resulted in more centers halting meal and snack preparation and requiring parents to provide food from home for their children. In the spring of 2006, sack lunches prepared at home for children attending licensed child-care centers were evaluated based on Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) standards. The study included 3- to 5-year-old children attending full-time child-care centers that required parents to provide lunches. Lunch contents were observed and recorded for 3 consecutive days. A 3-day mean nutrient content was used to determine whether the lunches provided a minimum of 33% of the DRI. The following nutrients were evaluated: energy, carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, zinc, and sodium. Food items were summarized and compared with CACFP standards. More than 50% of the 3-day means provided less than 33% of the DRIs for energy (n=58), carbohydrate (n=59), vitamin A (n=58), calcium (n=49), iron (n=44), and zinc (n=38). Seventy-one of the 74 children (96%) received less than 33% of the DRI for dietary fiber, yet the mean amount of sodium in observed lunches was 114% of the DRI. The observed lunches did not meet the CACFP standards for servings of fruits and vegetables for 157 (71%) or for servings of milk in 178 (80%). Sack lunches sent from home may not regularly provide adequate nutrients for the growth and development of young children. Nutrition education should be provided to parents to ensure that sack lunches sent from home meet children's nutritional needs.

PMID:
19103336
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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