New research suggests school lunches could boost students’ health. 

Flinders University researchers investigating the pros and cons of school-provided lunches say uniform delivery of lunchtime food at school could be a solution to better childhood nutrition and learning in Australia.

Packing a lunchbox with fruit, sandwiches, and snacks is common practice for most Australian school children. However, Professor Rebecca Golley says universal school-provided lunch models – a common practice in other countries such as the UK – would involve all children in the school being provided with the same nutritious diet, with less room for sweet, salty or fatty ‘treats’ in the mix.

“A universal school-provided lunch model could help to ensure all children have access to food at school, reduce stigma of children not having lunch or having different types of foods to their peers, and help to ensure children are provided with healthy lunch options,” Professor Golley says. 

“The meal would be prepared on site and served to children in their classroom, school hall or school yard, compared with the current school food model in Australia where generally parents provide lunch to their child/ren, either as a lunchbox packed from home or purchased from a school canteen,” says nutrition and dietetics researcher Associate Professor Golley.

“While there will need to be an initial investment to set up the necessary infrastructure and getting the right policies and guidelines in place, what is emerging from some work around Australia is that this public health strategy can deliver in terms of learning, student engagement and wellbeing.

“By children being provided with healthy meals at school we think it will help children to concentrate in the classroom and support their learning.”

The study is accessible here.