Three child eat, appetizing school lunch. Healthy school lunch: apple, juice, hamburger, vegetable,a...

This Printable Lunch Box Card Puts Your Child In Control Of Their School Lunch

by Cat Bowen

Back to school means back to packing lunches and back to dealing with all the mixed signals being sent to your child about what they eat and why it matters. Much of it comes from a good place — wanting children to eat healthy and move their bodies is a great idea and good message — but sometimes the wires get crossed, and children can get confused. That's why this genius lunch box card designed by Katja Rowell, M.D. — "The Feeding Doctor" — is a school must-have.

A filled-out version of the card was shared on Facebook by the Born to Eat Book page, but the original is a laminated missive that your kid can show the lunch monitors and teachers if they mention something about how or what your child is eating. It states that your child is able to understand their own desires for lunch, and they know when they're full, and what they want to eat. It's polite, but straight to the point. The lunch box card is a simple click-and-print template that allows you to fill in the spaces with your child's name and your own signature for ultimate ease of use. This no-nonsense approach to lunchtime puts the power in your child's hands, and also acknowledges their ability to make their own food choices. (Even if you're the one packing their lunch.)

As the mother of a child with feeding issues, this idea really resonates with me. There are days when my daughter will literally only eat foods that dissolve in her mouth, and that's OK. That doesn't mean that people in her lunch room see it that way. At one point at the end of last year, she was being so coached and cajoled by her lunch monitor that she simply stopped eating lunch entirely because she was being shamed for her veggie straws, applesauce pouches, and Hot Cheetos (even though we have all had that lunch at some point in our lives — or lots of points).

I eventually had to go into her school and speak with the parent coordinator and the lunch monitors about how their behavior was impacting my child. I understand that the monitors were likely coming from a place of concern — after all, her lunch box was filled with what looked like a junk food lover's dream — but having a card like this could have saved my daughter a lot of hurt feelings, and I wish I would have thought of something like it at the time. (Even though I made sure they had been apprised of her feeding difficulty. This is one extra step to shut things down before they get too detrimental.)

This genius lunch box card puts the parent and child back in control of what the narrative is when it comes to lunch time at school. Our children are served more mixed messages about food than possibly any other subject. On one hand, there's the food pyramid that stands sentinel in every lunch room across America. At this point, most of us could draw it in our sleep. But then you stroll the aisles of the grocery store, it seems as if most of what is marketed to children is full of sugar and other nonsense. How do our kids understand what they're supposed to do, or how they're supposed to eat? There's also the problem of children being told to "clean their plate" as though they don't understand their own hunger cues — this card addresses that as well.

The way our children understand their relationship with food must come from us, and that means that even at lunch time, a veritable free-for-all of food swapping, childhood chatter, and whatever is in the mystery meatloaf, we must step forward and advocate for our kids and give them the tools to properly advocate for themselves. This genius lunch box card does just that.