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School Lunches: Pack or Buy?

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Nearly 65 percent of students in Harrison County Schools eat a hot school lunch. A typical lunch costs between $1.15 and $1.40 depending on the age of the student.

While that's cheaper in comparison to meals out, some parents believe that packing a lunch is cheaper and healthier.

"It's really not cheaper, some studies have shown that. Not as nutritionally adequate but also it costs more to pack a lunch," said Tiffany Curran, Dietician and Child Nutrition Director for Harrison County Schools.

Jamie Oliverio took one look at a school lunch and decided it wasn't for her kids.

"I joined her for lunch, and the food was almost unidentifiable. I looked at her and I apologized I said, 'honey I am so sorry,'" said Jamie Oliverio, a parent.

She said her kids now pack their lunches and go to school with a healthy, nutritional meal every day.

"Fresh fruits, veggies, homemade snacks from kale chips to sweet potato chips," Oliverio said.

But Curran said that's not the case for every packed meal.

"A lot of time the packed lunches are lacking in a lot of nutrients that students need," Curran said.

Cameron Clark, a fourth grader at Nutter Fort Elementary School, said that he packs his lunch everyday, even though most of his friends buy a lunch.

"Sometimes I don't like what they're serving," Clark said.

Curran said every lunch the schools provide must meet nutritional requirements. Curran said those standards are often stricter than at home guidelines.

She said most of the packed lunches are filled with high sugar drinks and baked goods.

"Sometimes a sandwich, lunch meat rolled up, cookies," Clark said.

"Gold fish, fruit roll ups," said Dy'laun Sapp, a fourth grader at Nutter Fort Elementary School.

Curran said more and more people are eating out and picking convenience over nutritional value. She said this is making a balanced meal at school all the more important.

"Trying to offer them more fruits and vegetables on a regular basis so they are exposed to it and seeing it. A lot of kids aren't seeing it at home," Curran said.

To see the national nutritional guidelines for school lunches, click here.

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