School Lunchtime Trends
The second installment of the LUNCHABLES® Lunchroom Monitor Survey, conducted by KRC Research*, polled 1,000 moms and 1,000 kids (ages 8-12) nationwide to compare notes on what is cafeteria cool this fall. The Lunchroom Monitor Survey serves up the dish on what makes this year's back-to-school "A-list" for both kids and moms.
What moms had to say...
• Brown Bag Monitor
When packing a lunch, 47% of moms include items based on the nutritional content, 26% pack foods based on their child's request and 22% pack items based on convenience and total preparation time.
To ensure their child's lunch is good for them, while shopping for lunch food items, 36% of moms read nutrition labels, 21% trust their instincts and 19% admit to buying whatever their child likes.
Although moms typically pack their child's school lunch, they say they are more likely to let their child pack their own lunch on a Friday (26%) or field trip day (38%).
• Mom's Lunchtime Challenges
When packing a lunch, 97% of moms believe that their kids think that it is most important to have a lunch that tastes good. Mom's intuition is right on, but kids also stated that they place a high importance on nutrition (59%).
Though more than half of the moms surveyed agree that it's important to provide their child with a nutritious lunch (59%), nearly 40% say they often send their kids to school with money to purchase a lunch they feel is less nutritious than one brought from home.
• Food for Thought
During the back-to-school season, moms have a lot to consider, including their child's lunch. While 46% of moms worry their child won't eat their lunch, 16% worry that the lunch is not healthy and 13% worry their child won't like how it tastes.
When kids are returning to school this fall, 43% of moms said their child's grades will weigh most heavily on their minds, while 20% worry about peer pressures and 15% worry about their child's safety at school.
What kids had to say...
• Kids in the Kitchen
Less than half of the kids surveyed say they have a hand in packing their lunch at least once a week (47%). For those aspiring junior chefs, 65% are packing their lunch before school during the morning rush.
Overall, 73% of school lunches are packed by mom.
• New Fall Lunch Line
When it comes to lunchtime accessories, older kids (age 11-12) and younger kids (age 8-10) have different ideas about what's cool. Not surprisingly, more than 30% of older kids prefer the brown bag, while nearly 60% of younger kids prefer to bring their lunch in a lunchbox.
When it comes to what kids are packing, both older and younger kids pack a sandwich (72% older; 74% younger) and fruit (39% older; 44% younger) most often.
The survey also revealed that older kids prefer to pack chips (42%), while younger kids like to include a juice box (39%).
• Foods Kids Favor
Whether lunch is brought or bought, nearly 40 percent of kids say that their most "fun" school lunch would include pizza, followed by soda (21%) and a sandwich (19%).
Foods that can be dunked or dipped also receive high marks, with more than 50 percent of the kids polled saying their favorite food to dunk is chicken nuggets, followed by vegetables (29%) and nachos (23%).
• Cafeteria Chatter
During lunch, 39% of boys chat about sports, 32% converse about video games and 23% compare notes on after school activities.
While girls also discuss after school activities (23%), they are more likely to talk about schoolwork (17%) and the opposite sex and dating (14%).
Both older and younger kids talk about after school activities (23% older; 24% younger) and sports (23% older; 21% younger).
Older kids are more likely to discuss dating and the opposite sex (19%) while younger kids are more apt to talk about video games (19%).
* KRC Research, a full-service international market research firm, conducted telephone interviews with 1,000 moms (with children age 8-12) and 1,000 children (age 8-12), nationwide. All results are representative of the American population. All interviews were conducted in January and June 2004. Interviewers obtained permission to survey all children from a parent or adult guardian prior to commencing the interview. The margin of error for both samples is +/-3.1%. KRC Research is a wholly owned unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc., which is a publicly traded company (New York Stock Exchange: IPG) headquartered in New York. KRC Research has offices in Washington, D.C., Boston and London.
Jodie's Cool Tips on Creating Cool Lunches:
Hot, Cold, Bought or Brought
(Registered dietitian Jodie Shield, M.Ed)
Kids want a lunch that is fun and tastes good, while parents want to provide kids with a nutritious lunch. To help get kids excited about eating and packing healthier lunches - that taste good and are fun, too - registered dietitian, Jodie Shield, M.Ed., provides her top tips on how to beat back-to-school brown bag boredom.
• Invest in cool lunch equipment. Let your kids choose a lunchbox, insulated lunch bag or even a plain brown bag to express their style. A word to the wise, moms - the LUNCHABLES Lunch Combinations Lunchroom Monitor Survey revealed that older kids (age 11-12) prefer brown bags (32%), while younger kids (age 8-10) prefer lunchboxes (58%). Half-size plastic baggies also are a great tool to have on hand to help teach kids about portion control and offer an easy way to stash kid friendly snacks in knapsacks.
• Cold pack. Keep refrigerated items such as low-fat yogurt, cheese and lean deli meats fresh by including a frozen ice pack or freezing 100% juice boxes that you plan to include. Remember that the containers are likely to sweat while thawing, so wrap them well to prevent your child's lunch from becoming soggy.
• Include their favorites. Pack your child's favorite foods in their lunch every now and then, whether it's cold pizza, pasta or chips - just keep an eye on the portion size. All foods can fit into a healthy diet if eaten in moderation and in the right portion.
• Dip or dunk. Kids love to dip their food because it gives pizzazz to regular items, such as carrots and apples. According to Lunchroom Monitor Survey, vegetables are second only to chicken nuggets when it comes to the favorite foods to dunk. So for dunking appeal, pack low-fat dressings and sauces with lunches.
• Celebrate special days. Plan lunch menus around a special event. For example, pack an all-red lunch in celebration of Valentine's Day, include a fortune cookie to celebrate Chinese New Year or a cupcake on your child's birthday.
• Transform healthy foods into tasty treats. Add variety to your kid's lunch by sending items, such as veggies, in a new way. If you are trying to get your child to eat celery, spread peanut butter on it.
• How it stacks up. Kids like foods that are fun, interactive and tasty. LUNCHABLES Fun Fuel Pile-Ups not only provide four of the five food groups moms look for, they also allow kids to stack and eat their lunches any way they want.
For more information please visit www.lunchables.com
OSCAR MAYER® has created Lunchables® Fun Fuel, four lunch combinations that offer choices from four of the five USDA Food Guide Pyramid food groups and provide good sources of calcium and protein.