to think even Gove wouldn''t ban packed lunches

(433 Posts)
kim147 Fri 12-Jul-13 07:30:29

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23270715

Granted I have seen some crap packed lunches in some schools. But to ban packed lunches?

Unless they were considerably cheaper, I can't see how they can do this. And as a teacher, I don't want to police lunch boxes.

Mouseymouseface Fri 12-Jul-13 09:48:42

Wierdly, Gove I WANT my dc to have their main family meal with dh and me, sitting down together all eating the same meal, chatting and having a laugh.

If dds have had school dinners they are far too full for anything more than a sandwich. And I don't think people need two main meals per day.

CrayolaLola Fri 12-Jul-13 09:48:56

It's all getting a bit too Orwellian isn't it...

My DS's packed lunch is healthier than any of the prison-style school dinners on offer. He has decent cuts of meat in his sandwiches, lots of fruit, pure fruit juice/water and a homemade cake/flapjack for pud. The school dinner menu is full of poor quality food and ridiculously fat & sugar laden unhealthy desserts. I categorically would never allow any teacher/politician/whoever to dictate how I feed my (very healthy, perfect-weight-for-their-age) children.

BTW, it wasn't that long ago was it when most schools had to take beef/horsemeat off their menu. It’s a sad fact of life that cost and supply will always override the quality of school meals.

I can't believe how cross I am at this time of the morning having just read the whole sorry story in the paper!!! Michael Gove's heart might be in the right place most of the time but Ye Gods he needs to engage his brain too sometimes!

There is a big campaign with various groups. Their main arguments stem from (1) examples of low-performing schools where school dinners were made compulsory and results skyrocketed, (2) the content of some packed lunches and (3) the economies of scale of mass catering.

The average school dinner may be more nutritious than the average packed lunch, but many school dinners are appalling (spoonful of rice and a biscuit if you're last in the queue) and many packed lunches are excellent.

Add to the that the fact that a school dinner is necessarily one size fits (fills?) all and it is clearly absurd to suggest that a quiet 4yo ought to have the same lunch as an 11yo who never stops moving.

School dinners don't satisfy my active 5yo, come to that. When I pack his lunch I can take into consideration his entire diet, current preferences, current activity levels, etc. He is too young to have to worry about making precise food choices and I don't want him to think about calories. Learning about a balanced plate, or "sometimes" v "every day" foods is fine.

Remotecontrolduck Fri 12-Jul-13 09:54:58

Isn't going to happen. It's a ridiculous idea.

School lunches on the whole are crap, and far too expensive for the vast majority.

ChunkyFicken Fri 12-Jul-13 09:59:44

This is a rubbish idea. School meals are awful, they need to make major changes if this is to be introduced. For instance, why do the children have to eat their meals off those awful plastic trays with your main next to the custard? Why can't they have separate plates and bowls?

They would also have to be very transparent about where the meat comes from before I would let my children eat school meals. As well as making them considerably cheaper.

I dunno, it's annoying when the Gov think parents are too thick to provide decent meals, from packed lunches to a hot main meal at home. Sure, some won't bother but the majority are more than capable, thank you very much.

AngelsWithSilverWings Fri 12-Jul-13 10:03:29

No way will I be forced to pay £2.30 per day x2 for the rubbish my school serves up.

I'm more than capable of knowing what a healthy packed lunch consists of and of cooking my children a nutritional meal in the evening.

The cost would be too much for us even with DH on a fairly good income so how families who are already struggling to make ends meet but are not entitled to FSM will cope is beyond me.

If this was enforced I would pick my kids up at lunchtime and give them lunch at home.

I live in quite an affluent area but the take up of school meals in our school is now so low that the kitchen is under threat of closure. We have hardly any children on FSM. The main reasons given by parents for not choosing school meals is that they can't afford it and the quality is poor.

RestingUnderTheSun Fri 12-Jul-13 10:06:07

In our school, they now have decided to ask children at the start of the day what they would like for lunch so they can prepare the right ratio of each meal (ie decrease left over and ensuring that children get what they are happy to eat) + there is always a salad bar.

Result: quite a few more children did go onto school meals for a while. And then the reality hit again. The children were still not eating very much or anything remotely 'healthy'.
Because well... the food is still crap! Mainly based on potatoes in different form and sausages.
They have some 'special days' where children are supposed to be able to eat something different. That are in effect the same old crap with a new fancy name.
All that for £2.00 a meal when it costs me £1.00 or less to give a (healthy) cooked meal to my dcs to take to school. hmmhmm

LoveBeingUpAt4InTheMorning Fri 12-Jul-13 10:07:41

It's never gonna happen, for a start think of the impact on all those companies that make food that is brought for packed lunches.

RestingUnderTheSun Fri 12-Jul-13 10:07:46

The worst thing is that my dcs do take a cooked meal most days. usually made from left overs of a previous evening meal. They've had pasta, curries, stews etc...

But still nowhere near as dire as what it cost to feed children crap in a school.

cherryblossoming Fri 12-Jul-13 10:13:15

My kid would starve. I pack a healthy packed lunch daily and whoever brings unhealthy food should be dealt with. leave us alone. I also cannot afford wasting money on food my child is not going to eat. I have met a few children who would gobble everything and anything up but just a few. Personally, I would not have liked to be made to eat canteen food every day.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Jul-13 10:16:23

Morning. Just thought it might be worth jumping up and down in a dignified fashion and pointing you all to our Lunchbox dos and don'ts, as compiled by MNers who've been there, done that and peeled many a congealed cheesetring off plastic containers.

Tiggles Fri 12-Jul-13 10:17:18

My DSs have a packed lunch every day because I want to cook them a healthy meal in the evening. I firmly believe that a meal I cook fresh for them will be healthier than a school dinner prepared in advance, with over cooked veg sat on the side waiting for them to come and eat it.

If they had a school dinner they would have sandwiches for tea that I currently send in for lunch. therefore their overall diet will become less healthy.

They don't have pudding everyday at home with dinner, yet school dinners have desert every day. They don't have chips every day at home, yet school dinners 4 out of 5 days at our school have 'chipped potatoes' on the menu. etc. etc.

Looking just at packed lunches and deciding that a child's diet isn't healthy enough is ridiculous, unless they look at the food a child with school dinners eats in the evenings too. Yes my children do have sandwiches every day for lunch, along with a couple of pieces of fruit and salad, so do I. They are perfectly healthy and below average weight. I don't need them eating school dinners everyday to achieve health.

Lovecat Fri 12-Jul-13 10:17:26

DD goes to a private school where the lunches are included with the fees and are compulsory. Pretty much every day she has pasta and cheese with no veg and comes home ravenous because

a) every day they have curry or chilli on the menu - she can't stomach anything spicy at all, even salt & vinegar crisps are too 'spicy' for her
b) the alternative that she could eat (sausages, roast dinner, shepherds pie, lasagne etc) all go within the first 10 minutes and all that's left is curry (when they've complained to the teachers the answer they get is 'oh, everyone likes curry, stop fussing' angry)
c) 4 days out of 5 the only side veg they have is frozen mixed veg (which has sweetcorn in it) or sweetcorn - like me, she hates sweetcorn and would be sick if forced to eat it. They rarely have fresh veg or greens.

She comes home ravenous - having spoken to other mothers their children also come home starving so I think the portions are fairly tiny. We are paying for our children to be starved sad It has been raised, but we were told that the supplier was locked into a contract and couldn't be changed.

I would LOVE to be able to give her sandwiches to take in but apparently unless she has life-threatening allergies it is forbidden.

MrsFruitcake Fri 12-Jul-13 10:21:21

James O'Brien on LBC just had a caller suggesting that G4S will be bought in to do the school catering. grin

Beechview Fri 12-Jul-13 10:25:02

My dcs also often take leftovers. I have hot food containers for them so they have hot meals. With that, they'll have some fruit and some cheese or yoghurt and water.
In the summer they prefer sandwiches/rolls. I often make home made bread but not all the time. They'll have fruit and cheese/yoghurt with that.
I hardly ever give them anything sugary apart from fruit and, if I do, its usually homemade. they also may have some crackers or hula hoops but just a few.

I think that's fairly healthy and a normal amount of food but on the rare occasion that they need to have school dinners, they are starving by the time I pick them up from school.
My reception aged child is often in tears because he's so hungry. A friend noticed that with her child. He's a healthy slim 8 yr old who is always still hungry after school dinners. When my friend approached the school about whether he could ask for bigger portions, they said no.
At £2 a meal, its not worth it if the kids aren't being fed enough.

MsMunch Fri 12-Jul-13 10:30:25

It won't happen surely, Gove keeps needing to go back and revise his ideas after further study. You would imagine he would be more tolerant of coursework and resits.

Our provider has changed recently and it is better though still not fabulous. My eldest insists that the mash is disgusting and the gravy horrid (yeah we are one of those houses that only eat onion gravy freshly made). He eats no meat so would alternate every day between fish fingers and quorn. We do a lot better than that. Am sure he will develop a taste for over processed stuff but how bizarre if he has to learn this at primary school!

hopingforbest Fri 12-Jul-13 10:31:08

I am getting incredibly arsed off with the government talking about 'parental choice' and then reducing parental choice at every turn.

Agree: Like Mary Poppins on crack.

Our school had an open-evening for parents to try the school dinners and persuade us to swap. They were DISGUSTING. Thick orange plastic cheese melted over, presumably, horse (have they forgotten that scandal already?). And then white garden mulch masquerading as crumble.

The school packed lunch policy: no juice, no chocolate etc. The school dinners have chocolate sponge and chips fried in an unpleasant tasting oil (or so say my kids, who had the chips once when I forgot to bring in the packed lunches and begged me never to make them have school dinners again. And they LOVE chips!).

LittleMissGerardButlerfan Fri 12-Jul-13 10:31:09

I have tried one of my boys on school dinners a couple of times, but each time he has come home starving and I agreed with school that we would try it and if it didn't work I would put him back on lunches which is what happened. He has sensory problems and has a thing about textures like I do so I wouldn't force him to eat things.

Plus the cost of having 2 lots of school dinners to pay for, can't afford it.

I have seen the menus and they aren't particularly healthy, sponge and custard every day and fish fingers and chicken nuggets and pizza etc. yes I do give my children those things at home, but school dinners are not healthier.

Our school doesn't ban food as such but if a child took a fizzy drink and chocolate just as their lunch for example then they would be advised nicely that its not suitable.

hopingforbest Fri 12-Jul-13 10:32:24

PS I went to a private school with compulsory school meals. But we were fed by Trusthouse Forte, so it really wasn't bad!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 12-Jul-13 10:33:27

I will take them to court if they try this. My children's packed lunches are 200% healthier than the processed SHITE served in our school. Plastic cheese sauce anyone?

Not a HOPE mate.

madamginger Fri 12-Jul-13 10:35:08

My DD is the Fussiest eater, she lasted 2 days on school dinners before they asked me to send a packed lunch.
She generally has a sandwich, fruit, drink, a small biscuit and a yoghurt.
I know she will eat it, she isn't hungry all day and its far cheaper than the £2 a day for a stodgy carb filled school 'healthy, school dinner.

I will fight tooth and nail to keep her packed lunch.

TeWiSavesTheDay Fri 12-Jul-13 10:35:30

I went to a private school with compulsory meals as well. They were mostly okay, but I will always remember a poor little boy who, on reflection of his generally behaviour probably had autism - he genuinely ate nothing, and cried every day in the dinner hall.

cheeseandchive Fri 12-Jul-13 10:43:18

grin maybe they will be putting trackers on the children, MrsFruitcake, to check all those calories are getting burned up and not stored as <gasp> FAT.

The government almost seem to want to totally take parents out of the equation - I agree with Crayola it seems a bit Orwellian.

Why not continue to educate parents and children about healthy choices? Rather than giving up and saying "oh give over, I'll just do it myself". How is anyone expected to learn anything about nutrition if they are excluded from the process? The variety of packed lunches actually provides a really good starting point from which to talk to children about the range ways in which they can get all the nutrients they need.

I know it's not as simple as that, but then neither is claiming that school dinners will be better for everyone.

mrsravelstein Fri 12-Jul-13 10:44:13

ds1, very fussy eater, was a private school for 5 years, where they could only have school dinner. he used to eat a roll if there was one. and cake/biscuit if available. every day for 5 years. very healthy.

dc2&3 to to a different school and have packed lunches. often with a chocolate biscuit in. or crisps. because, in fact, chocolate biscuits and crisps are just, y'know, food, and perfectly fine to be eaten as part of a generally healthy & balanced diet. i would be seriously pissed off if their school told me to stop putting in a penguin biscuit or a packet of cheddars.

Myliferocks Fri 12-Jul-13 10:44:16

It would cost me £50 a week for my 4 DC to have school dinners at the moment. Their packed lunches cost between £10-12 for the same week.
On the odd occasions that they do have school dinners they end up eating a cooked meal in the evening as well because they are still hungry.
I don't think that obesity is just down to bad diet either.
My 5 DC pretty much eat the same things and have the same amount of sweets, cake and fizzy drinks each week. They also play out together and run around.
4 of them are skinny beanpoles while the 5th struggles with her weight, even at the age of 11.

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