The new child nutrition legislation signed in January is a good start toward improving school lunches for kids, but its implementation will likely be held up by partisan bickering over where the funding will come from. That means school lunches are not likely to change for the better anytime soon.

For the sake of both your kids and those of your clients, here are five solid reasons offered by kidshealth.org to either start or continue packing a lunch for children (try to do this at least twice per week):

  1. Control. Be in the driver’s seat when it comes to knowing what your kids eat for lunch. Pizza, burgers and Tater Tots® are okay once in a while, but not every day. You know what your children like, so plan and pack accordingly.
  2. Variety. School lunch a couple of times per week gives you a break and lets your kids eat what their friends are eating. But when you control what goes into the bag, you can provide a welcome and delicious alternative to what the cafeteria is serving. If you put enough thought into the lunch, or have the kids help you prepare it, they may even like the homemade meal better.
  3. Energy. Do your children have afternoon tests or a big game or practice after school? If so, you can provide a mix of lean proteins balanced with carbohydrates to give the kids energy and focus for the long haul. Kidshealth.org suggests trying “a trail mix of dried fruits and nuts or sunflower seeds, whole-grain pretzels and low-fat cheese, or a bagful of baby carrots and yogurt dip.”
  4. Savings. You can prep a homemade lunch and snacks for far less than it costs to pay for school lunch, a snack bar or a vending machine! Put the savings into a fund and then do something fun with your kids.
  5. Warm Fuzzies. Start a tradition with your kids that builds into lasting memories. Drop a note of praise or encouragement into their lunch. Pack a favorite splurgy food item they don’t expect. Give them a reason to look forward to their next brown-bag lunch. They may actually end up preferring your version to the school’s.