to think that free school meals aren't at ALL tempting now this has happened?

(29 Posts)
BumpyGrindy Thu 06-Mar-14 23:14:55

So next year infant children are all set to receive free school meals...right. We're always talking on MN about the school lunch police and about how school meals aren't all that...I mean many are quite disgusting.

However, I was thinking that it was a good thing for many people...free school lunch is great for those who don't quite qualify but still struggle...then I read this... Health Rules for school lunches scrapped

It's a Daily Fail link so don't click it if you hate them...but have a google about for a better version of this. They're removing the guidelines on sugar, minerals and fat content...so I suppose we will be back to Turkey Twizzlers then.

I won't be taking advantage of the free school meals for sure.

Our school meals are fantastic and I am very happy that we'll be getting some help to pay for them (DS will be eligible but DD is too old now).

BumpyGrindy Thu 06-Mar-14 23:28:08

MrsCakes you're one of the lucky ones. Our school meals are not edible. Terrible quality already and I can't imagine what they'll be like once the guidlines are removed...unlesss (clutches at straws) they turn out better? Maybe the cooks will do better with freedom?

ParsingFancy Thu 06-Mar-14 23:35:38

The cooks won't have freedom. It'll all be decided by the bean-counters, not the bean-cookers. Hence turkey-twizzlers in the first place.

Nocomet Thu 06-Mar-14 23:43:16

Our primary meals were quite nice until the latest lot of guide lines messed up all the things DD2 would eat. So may be a bit of freedom is a good thing.

BumpyGrindy Thu 06-Mar-14 23:43:43

Parsing You're right of course. It's awful. The government make a big deal out of it and then remove it's worth quietly.

NewLisaLife Fri 07-Mar-14 00:21:34

This is our current school menu

if the link works

bochead Fri 07-Mar-14 06:36:43

To be fair I suspect it's the only way to make it affordable to do.
DS qualified for FSM's but couldn't have them because:-

1/ The portions were for rabbits, not a kid whose weight was being medically monitored (he was tiny in KS1)
2/ Dairy intolerance and often no substitutions for key parts of the meal like the protein.

If you aren't happy with the quality just send a packed lunch as usual. For the truly struggling any meal is better than no meal at all (food banks are mostly processed stuff too!).

Given all the emphasis on healthy eating in recent years I suspect that to avoid uproar from parents and staff, LA's and schools will do their best to make meals healthy within the constraints of a very tight budget. Jamie Oliver will soon be on the case again too and then the politicians will all jump on the c'leb bandwagon.

I'm more concerned that free schools and academies don't have to employ qualified teachers or follow the national curriculum. The changes yet again to the GCSE curriculum also worry me - no wonder the Welsh have told him NO. Don't even get me started on the plight of SN pupils. Gove is really doing some silly things to education at the moment.

CrohnicallyFarting Fri 07-Mar-14 07:02:58

NewLisaLife- the thing is, it all sounds very nice, but a 'chicken wrap' is a plain piece of chicken breast, and a tortilla wrap, and then not even any suitable veg or sauce to make the wrap taste nice!

Look how often there are double carbs- pasta and garlic bread, pizza (with its bread base) and chips. In that instance, pizza is the protein part of the meal. Nothing against pizza, but I would rather have a larger slice without the chips to get more protein in.

It is the same veg over and over- beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, sweetcorn and coleslaw. Not sure if coleslaw and beans should count as a portion of veg as surely the 'goodness' of the veg is cancelled out by the salt and sugar etc in the sauce? (And the coleslaw isn't homemade so will be full of preservatives too I imagine, else the veg in it would be brown and gross). Often there is only one portion of veg offered.

Not to mention the daily puddings, which are often of the type that should have sugar added but don't due to the guidelines and so taste very bland or sometimes quite odd. Why not offer a pudding just twice a week, but make it properly, and the rest of the time just offer fruit or yoghurt?

And this is what lunches are like with the guidelines!

summermovedon Fri 07-Mar-14 07:18:21

Except it is the council that decides on school meals, isn't it, and they have their own guidelines. My DC have been in two different schools, I have tasted the meals, and tbh I don't see the problem. Plus not wise to believe the DM!

NewLisaLife Fri 07-Mar-14 07:35:34

My DC love their school dinner ds1 (7) said it's very nice. Especially the puddings.

Nataleejah Fri 07-Mar-14 08:21:34

Free school meals for all is a very silly idea. Been tried in countries much poorer than UK, and there were way more fussers than eaters. Most of it will end up in bins.

cory Fri 07-Mar-14 08:53:27

Nataleejah, free school meals has been the norm in Sweden since the 60's at least. They don't have major problems with food refusers. The menus (published in the local press every week for every school) are pretty good these days (less so when I was a child) and children are generally speaking more used to eating home-cooked type foods. Even at nursery school, there will be a communal lunch, and there the littlies will be involved in preparing it.

Not sure it translates to this country, but I am often struck by the fact that my young Swedish relatives speak so positively about their school dinners. It's not an experiment that has been tried and discarded; it's something everybody takes for granted.

cory Fri 07-Mar-14 08:54:23

Oh, and they don't offer pudding except on very rare occasions (end of term and similar). But the children are expected to eat side dishes like raw carrot. And boiled spuds rather than chips.

GinniferAndTonic Fri 07-Mar-14 09:03:04

Finland also has free school meals. They were free already when my parents went to school in the 50s. These days, the school lunches are nutritious, varied and high quality, and most people are happy with them. Different dietary requirements are catered to, but otherwise there are no options to choose from. And no puddings.

Finns eat generally less crap than the British, and obesity is much less of a problem.

Hedgehog80 Fri 07-Mar-14 09:05:07

Dd2 is starting reception in sep. is it def free for everybody regardless of income?

Smilesandpiles Fri 07-Mar-14 09:08:06

If they remove the guideline - hopefully that means a little salt will give the meals some bloody taste.

Not to mention the fact they NEED to put the jam back in the cornflake tarts.

BumpyGrindy Fri 07-Mar-14 10:48:44

Hedgehog yes...all infants will be receiving free meals at school. My DC won't touch them...I sometimes ask them "Would you mind having school lunch tomorrow?" if I've not been shopping and they both say "Oh no!!!" and would rather take a box full of fruit and one sandwich than that.

I try to make sure their packed lunches are healthy...they have a sandwich on granary, usually with peanut butter or cheese...they have three peices of fruit or two and maybe a handful of pretzels..and carrots or cucumbers....and they have a plain muffin or one with blueberries in it as well as water to drink.

I worry it's not very nice in winter but they won't take pasta or soup.

GuineaPigGaiters Fri 07-Mar-14 10:53:58

Chronically has it perfectly. Your menus sound like ours. On paper they look fine, when you see them in the flesh they are carb infested and the veg that IS there is so overlooked I'd be shocked if anything of nutritional value survives (plus the kids leave them because they are gross!) and the puddings are in variably of the stodgy and custard variety. I've just changed my two to packed lunch for this very reason. It makes me boil that the school serve up this shit and yet have the gall to criticize the odd chocolate bar in a pack up. School lunches far, far worse.

CrapBag Fri 07-Mar-14 10:56:11

I read recently that this was being scrapped due to many school kitchens not being able to cope with that many school dinners?

Retropear Fri 07-Mar-14 10:58:55

Yes we have fancy titles but reality is a whole lot different.The kids never choose or eat the veg,the portions are small and run out,carb and sugar heavy,little protein,crappy dubious meat...

And we get told our packed lunches aren't as good.hmm

My friend works for one provider and says they're hell to work for.Currently trying to get rid of a lot of old staff and re- employ people on crappier contracts.

And as tax payers we're paying for this because.........

Retropear Fri 07-Mar-14 11:04:02

Hardly any veg to speak of anyway.

shewhowines Fri 07-Mar-14 11:04:10

I thought the whole point of the fsd was to give our kids access to more nutritious meals...

And yes, IME, the healthier bits are left, veg isn't touched, and they all want seconds of the unhealthy bits.

This is so going to backfire

susiey Fri 07-Mar-14 11:18:07

I really think free school for all infants is a waste of money .
If anything the income limit should be put up so people on the edge that cannot afford to live can have free school meals.
There are so many other places in education that the money could be better used instead of on poor quality food which I know my children will eat just the bits they choose and leave all the bits I would usually encourage to eat at home.

At least with pack lunches I pack healthy fruit veg and protein they actually eat!

steppemum Fri 07-Mar-14 11:18:19

This whole policy is so badly thought through.

We have a small school hall.
Currently the school dinners eat in the hall, and the packed lunches for KS1 eat in a classroom, in another building.

We simply do not have the space to sit all the KS1 children in the hall, let alone the KS1 plus the normal KS2 children.

We will have to expand the shift system (we'll end up with kids having lunch at 10am!) But extending the lunch shifts has massive knock on effects. Eg lots of TAs are also mid day supervisors. But you can't take them out of class to do dinners, because their classes are still teaching and on the later lunch shift.
Plus extended use of the hall for lunch means less time in the hall for PE (obesity crisis??)

Add to that, a typical 2 form entry primary school here gets around £80,000 of its school budget form Pupil Premium ie children signed up for FSM. If it is free to all children, there is no reason for parents to sign up and that means the school looses huge amounts of money.

And that doesn't include such minor issues as our kitchen isn't big enough, or schools that have no kitchen etc etc.

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