Parents urged to push the healthy options

Nutritionist Gillian Browne

Nutritionist Gillian Browne

THE Department of Education is to roll out a free school meals scheme throughout secondary schools next year meaning hundreds more Fermanagh children will be eligible for the free lunch.

However, parents will have to wait another year before their children are entitled to claim the free school meals.


As the new school year approaches, the Fermanagh Herald takes a look at healthy lunch time options and what a local nutritionist advises what healthy lunch boxes should contain.

Gillian Browne, a nutritionist at the South West Acute Hospital, often works with schools to emphasise the importance of using the trust’s guidelines as a template of how food and healthy living should be embraced.

Schemes the Trust has launched includes an initiative encouraging parents and schools to do the healthy ‘munch-box’ challenge.

Ms Browne outlined the five main food groups and how it can be incorporated into lunch boxes.

“It should contain varied nutrient from these main food groups. These are starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes and pastas,” she said.

“Other groups include fruit and vegetables, milk and diary which is from the calcium group so things like yoghurt and cheese.

“Another group is protein so meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-diary foods, and finally foods containing fat and sugar.


“Some examples would include a bagel with tuna, sweetcorn and low-fat mayonnaise, a drink of water and fresh chopped fruit and a yoghurt. Other things could be rice, cous cous, salad with vegetables or drink like milk or water.

“It doesn’t have to be a plain ham sandwich especially when your meant to be using a wide variety of foods and bread.

“All our diets are high in fats, sugar and salt. We are eating on the run and need to take the time out to cook proper meals. In the west, and more in social economic parts of the west, there is higher rates of dental care as our diets are high in sugar.

“We need to try and encourage less sugary foods because children are growing and developing very rapidly.

“Children do need a lot of energy rich foods because they are growing and developing rapidly. “Portion sizes are growing with children and adults as food plates get bigger.”

The Department of Health through the Public Health Agency developed a leaflet entitled ‘Are We Picking a Healthy Lunch’ which offers different ideas to families as what counts as a healthy diet.

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