Retailers can help 100% of parents pack healthy school lunches

Retailers can help 100% of parents pack healthy school lunches

Back-to-school fervor fills the minds of marketers, retailers and—of course—parents and their children every August. Somehow, it already seems a distant memory as retailers look to their next promotions and families have fallen into the school-year routine.

But a press release that crossed my desk this week served as a reminder that promoting good food choices for kids isn't a once-a-year proposition.

Natural meat company Applegate conducted a "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey and found that 69 percent of U.S. parents report packing lunches for their kids, nearly one-third every day. Of those, 80 percent pack a sandwich or a wrap and deli meat beat out—believe it or not—PB&J.

Not suprisingly, the survey found parents have great concern about their lunch meat choices with 81 percent saying they want to know what's in deli meat products and how they are made, 79 percent saying it's important that meats are made from animals not treated with antibiotics and hormones, and 82 percent saying it was unfair and misleading that meat companies can label products as natural even when antibiotics are used.

Sounds like an opportunity for natural foods retailers to differentiate themselves from conventional groceries and make choosing the best lunch meats easier for their customers.

Other findings in the survey included:

  • 71 percent of lunch-packing parents saying they and their kids get bored quickly with lunch options.
  • 89 percent saying it was important to have all food groups represented in a child's lunch.
  • 75 percent saying they worry about how much of the lunch they pack for their children actually gets eaten.

How natural foods retailers can help

Retailers can help parents throughout the school year by offering their customers ideas for filling brown bags (or those great bento-box style lunchboxes) and stocking products such as Earthbound Farms' Dippin' Doubles or other conveniently packaged, kid-friendly snacks and sides.

Sure, some of them seem like cheating. But in our time-starved world, offering convient foods that give parents a more healthful option is both good for your bottom line and also could help set children on a path to better food choices, too.

And if you need inspiration to share with parents, try these 18 ideas school lunch ideas.

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