To think the plan to ban packed lunches is crazy?

(118 Posts)
Notcontent Mon 11-Feb-13 10:24:46

Apparently one of the government's proposals to improve healthy eating is to ban packed lunches at schools. I understand the reasoning, that it's to address the problem of parents who send their child to school with a chocolate bar, a jam sandwich and a packet of crisps. And if all schools produced a varied menu of food cooked on the premises then I would be all for it but that's nom the case.

In the borough where I live in London all the schools get their food from a large catering company. The food sounds ok on paper but is really just mass produced slop. Also, while in theory there is choice, in practice there is not. My dd eats a very good range of foods but there are one or two things she doesn't eat and these ingredients seem to feature in every second school meal.

Bunfags Mon 11-Feb-13 14:11:13

FFS, when will this madness stop? Many of us grew up in the 70's on a diet of mince, chemical laden orange and Angel Delight, but they bleat about jam sanwhiches and a packet of crisps. I'm lost for words to be honest.

A £2.10 school meal will likely contain mystery meat, horse maybe?

<Bungag slinks off grumbling about the nanny state>

RedToothBrush Mon 11-Feb-13 14:16:48

Of all the weeks to suggest this, I think this was a really good one.

If I was a cynic I'd think that it was almost deliberate to scupper any chance at all of getting parental support...

At my secondary schools everyone had school dinners. Economies of scale then meant they could employ enough staff to make actual fresh food, even catering properly for allergies including making a special meal every day, different every day, for each allergy sufferer where necessary.

The proposal to ban packed lunches was a possible solution to the problem in most schools that the few taking school dinners can't justify the man hours required to cater properly.

The alternative suggestion is to stop children leaving the school site at lunchtime. That was the rule for me for all of secondary school so I find it unexceptionable.

Primary school meals are typically charged per day, rather than by what is consumed. While that obviously has its own drawbacks, I do feel that children shouldn't be choosing their lunch based on price, as is the case at most secondary schools. This is worse when it is a cash system, so they choose a portion of chips and save £1 to spend on Red Bull in the corner shop.

skullcandy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:30:53

my son wont eat school dinners. He's food phobic. He takes in sandwiches because its food i know he will eat. He's skin and bone as it is, trying to ban packed lunches would starve him, or have the school dealing with a screaming meltdown over trying to make him even touch a plate with food on he wont eat.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think the real problem is that councils have outsourced the production of the dinners, with the result that the company is wanting to make a profit on providing them, which obviously affects the amount of money they budget for food.

If councils returned to in-house production of dinners I reckon costs would fall but there would be enough leeway in the budget that quality could increase. For example, DS's primary school is on the same campus as a special school and also a 6th form school. They could combine to provide the dinners to all students, especially as the special school at least still has working kitchens and cooks theirs. This would reduce costs without impacting on quality.

Currently DS has packed lunches, of food I know he will eat, and not the junk masquerading as food served up at his school. The dinners are cooked in the kitchens of a school 10 miles away and are often lukewarm on arrival, despite the special school next door which could cook for them instead and it would be hot at least.

When I was at school we all (bar a very few) had dinners, which would be one choice and one pudding but was good quality, locally cooked (in kitchens of college next door). I even ate the liver and bacon! I've never liked it from anywhere else, even better than mum's version. grin

The push years ago to cut costs led councils to consider bids from companies who deliberately bid low to get contracts, when some creative thinking could have cut costs without impacting on quality even then.

exoticfruits Mon 11-Feb-13 14:41:16

I don't think they can do it because they have allowed packed lunches and people are used to it. I am older than the norm on here and all the way through school - from 5- 18 you had to either have a school lunch or go home for lunch- there were no packed lunches allowed. You can't go back.

Stupid idea YANBU

Haven't read whole thread so sorry if I'm repeating. We always have z& always will eat a home cooked meal in the evenings. It's how I grew up (dh didn't & wishes he had) we will sit around the table & share the same food as a family. I don't think two hot meals a day are necessary (ok,once in a while).

So sandwiches or similar for lunch, then shared family meal to catch up. Do the government not want family cohesion?

*remind me of this when I'm running around to cubs/rainbows/hockey in a few years^

babbies even running around for cubs/guides/etc, we still manage to have shared family meals at least 5 nights a week. It is doable for us.

PavlovtheCat Mon 11-Feb-13 14:58:06

babbie I wouldn't necessarily call school meals 'hot' wink tepid at best.

MrsDeVere Mon 11-Feb-13 15:04:23

I can't afford school meals for three kids.

That would cost me nearly £30 a week shock

Thats only £20 less than I spend in food for the whole family per week.

£120 per month on lunches? I.don't.think.so.

(don't laugh if my sums are wrong, take pity instead)

Andro Mon 11-Feb-13 15:13:40

RussiansOnTheSpree - the hypocrisy of how different allergens are dealt with is infuriating! I don't agree with banning anything on the basis of allergic reactions in schools - not least because it teaches nothing about allergy management - but treating nuts differently to other anaphylaxis causing foods is discrimination pure and simple.

This 'idea' clearly hasn't been thought through prior to suggestion!

ihearsounds Mon 11-Feb-13 15:16:38

Before the government start on pack lunches they should reassess what is healthy.
The change4life campaign, is a joke. Have any of you actually looked at the recipes? We are doing healthy eating week at school, we was supposed to use change4life quite a lot this week. But after looking at it in detail, we have ditched it. Things like loads of cheese, lack of veg, high salt and fat levels. Very dire recipes - pork and garlic bread bake, which is pork, garlic bread, onion and an apple, very inspiring.

Then there is the existing school meals. Everyday chips. Over cooked veg that is usually potatoes (yum, chips with a portion of mash), carrots, green beans and beans. Every day. Today is was pizza or chicken sausage. Tomorrow, chicken sausage or some vile lentil bake (we tasted it), Woohoo, on wednesday we can have some very over cooked pasta (with some potatoes), thursday nuggets or quiche, friday left over quiche or battered fish... Desserts, chocolate cake and chocolate custard or jelly... Not really a lot of choice for those with specific dietary needs. Not really a lot of choice full stop.

But it will never happen. Gove wants all schools to become academies, and academies are free to choose what they dish up. Which the above is the typical week in our academy. The local primary, which is still council controlled serves a lot better, but everything is cooked in house.

Myliferocks Mon 11-Feb-13 15:27:41

If the government are quite happy to pay the £10 per day it would cost me for my 4 children to have school dinners then go for it!
They have healthy packed lunches at a total cost of £1 per day.
Yes I was sad enough to sit down one day and work out how much it cost me per day to provide the 4 of them with packed lunches.

Crazy idea. J school lunches are great (but I think this is probably the exception rather than the rule). I personally can't help thinking it's interesting that this proposal was announced at about the same time it was confirmed funding to the Childrens Food Trust was axed.

In defence of Jamie Oliver, I think he was campaigning for better school meals per se. Call me cynical, but It looks like latest proposals are aimed at ticking the "healthy" box without putting more money into the system. OK, there's a recession on and we all have to tighten our belts, but at least be honest about it and don't make parents pay through the back door.

At the end of the day, give parents the information, encouarge healthy choices, but don't force half-baked (if you'll excuse the pun) ideas on us.

BobbiFleckmann Going back some way in the thread, you mention you know the advisors who suggested this. Perhaps you can get them to look at this thread. The idea seems a nice enough one, in principle, but as you can see the practicalities and in particular the quality/portion size, just makes this seem impossible to implement.

manicinsomniac Tue 12-Feb-13 12:09:29

Packed lunches aren't allowed at our school.

Seems to work ok - 3 hot options, salad bar, soup, bread, choice of hot or cold pudding.

A simpler option would be to reduce the price of school dinners - I think more people would choose it if this were done. School dinners were much cheaper in my day I think (even relatively) - simple economics - price affects demand smile

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