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.

It's not one of the government's proposals, it's a suggestion by their advisors on schools lunches. I really can't see the government actually implementing it tbh. It's a stupid idea. If they were suggesting free, healthy school lunches then that's an idea that I could agree with (but they still shouldn't be compulsory IMO)

aldiwhore Mon 11-Feb-13 10:31:09

I think that the government has a nerve to preach about healthy eating in light of recent scandals that have highlighted just how unhealthy and tampered with all the food available is, unless you can afford organic. They are putting the cart before the horse (no pun intended) and need to sort out the food available to us and ensure it's quality, before telling us what we can and cannot feed our children.

I will homeschool if this comes into force.

Also school dinners are £2:10 per day per child, I can give my children packed lunches for less than that. If the school is going to pay fine, if not they can naff off.

Scheherezade Mon 11-Feb-13 10:31:32

I like jam sandwiches sad

JeffFaFa Mon 11-Feb-13 10:31:55

If ds1's school did this he would hardly, there is meals say 2-3 days out of 5 he would eat, when he has eaten there before hes had an upset stomach all night, i also find pack lunches far cheaper for me.

fluffyraggies Mon 11-Feb-13 10:33:04

The cost of a school meal at our local primary is £3.50 shock

Are these meals going to be subsidised? And if so where's the money going to come from?

I had 3 DCs at that school a few years ago. They had packed lunches. There's no way i would have been able to afford £52 per week.

WiseKneeHair Mon 11-Feb-13 10:34:01

They couldn't enforce it. If I refuse to pay for school dinners (as I would for DS1), then how are they going yo make me?

Pancakeflipper Mon 11-Feb-13 10:36:08

Stupid idea. Packed lunches can be very healthy and cheaper than school dinners.

My youngest has yet to start school but will not have school dinners as he has a food intolerance and it's easier for me, him and the school if I ensure his food is suitable for him.

kim147 Mon 11-Feb-13 10:36:33

The advisor said there were no plans like that today on Radio 4.

Notcontent Mon 11-Feb-13 10:39:39

MrsMini - yes, of course younger quite right, it's just one of the recommendations from that Leon guy and crew. And just how are they qualified to advise on this???

Aldi - yes, exactly - that's exactly what i was thinking too - cheap meat is even less appealing than before...

Incidentally, I was listening to an interesting radio programme yesterday about the meat scandal (horse gate!) and the point was made that suppliers to supermarkets and catering companies are under tremendous pressure to produce products at a certain price and often the only way they can do that is to try to source meat at the lowest possible price, and in that quest they will buy meat from any source they can.

TheWave Mon 11-Feb-13 10:40:24

There are always posters who defend jam sandwiches and the odd choc as a "treat" though.

Just do proper food, no crisps or chocs at all and save your treats for at home, so that the other children don't have to see and we wouldn't have to have the lunchbox police discussion.

sheeplikessleep Mon 11-Feb-13 10:40:39

I agree with you.

DS1 has cooked dinners 3 days a week, because I'm working and hate the faff of sandwiches. I've deliberately picked the two days that offer roast dinners and he really likes pizza, which we don't tend to have at home, so he has that as his third day. The other days they have some processed fish. He takes packed lunches on those days.

I was shocked at how unhealthy their meals are. Veg wise, he says he gets peas and sweetcorn, but that's it. Seriously, the lack of variety is shocking.

If I was more convinced of the nutritional value of school meals, he'd have them 5 days a week. From what I can see, they are processed, with 'token gestures' of veg.

On his packed lunches day, I feel confident he gets a much more balanced lunch.

Startail Mon 11-Feb-13 10:41:04

It's unenforceable.
They would have to be free to all or 1/2 of us would be in cort for refusing to pay for food DCs won't eat.

Many children's diets would be way worse as they would smuggle in mars bars and cans of pop.

The teachers would spend every break and dinner time scouring the dark corners if school for illicit eating, the litter situation would be awful.

MsVestibule Mon 11-Feb-13 10:41:27

It's a ridiculous idea and utterly unimplementable (did I just make up a new word there?). My DDs lunches cost £2 per day - I can make her her a good quality packed lunch for about 70p, which is quite a saving over the academic year. (I do actually pay for her school lunches because she really likes them and according to the stickers she gets every day, always clears her plate.) What happens when parents refused to pay? Would the children have to go without any lunch?

TBH, I bet this came out of one of those meetings when the person leading it said "Let's do a bit of blue sky thinking. I want all of your ideas on how to make children eat more healthily, however insane they may sound. Think outside the box, people." And then the meeting notes were leaked and the media jumped all over it.

Notcontent Mon 11-Feb-13 10:41:30

Thanks Kim!!!
I was so outraged by this... Walks off mumbling to herself....

fluffyraggies Mon 11-Feb-13 10:42:15

The thing is - this is like the whole dog licence argument.

And yes, wise, is it unenforceable.

Those that don't give a shit about their kids food would carry on not giving a shit. These parents will either not pay for the meals, (and then what will happen?) or not care if their children are not actually eating the meals (again, what will happen? School staff cant force children to eat).

gordyslovesheep Mon 11-Feb-13 10:43:59

Won't happen dinners cost me £
6 a day I can't afford not to give then packed lunches crisps,pop or chocs in them though

calandarbear Mon 11-Feb-13 10:45:15

I haven't heard this nor can I imagine it happening. I already think the rules on what can be taken in a packed lunch make it a healthier option than a school dinner. In any case my DS is another one who wouldn't eat most things on a school dinner and be very hungry, and I could not afford to pay for them both to have dinners, his packed lunch doesn't cost me anywhere near £1.90 a day often consisting of meat the night before's dinner or pasta salad again using left overs. And fruit from the garden in summer or an apple or banana in winter.

Osmiornica Mon 11-Feb-13 10:47:54

Our school dinner a few weeks ago was pizza with potato waffles - how is that healthy? Other days are just as bad with fishfingers, macaroni cheese etc.

I have 2 children and at £2 odd a day each would cost me a fortune. Packed lunches are not that much.

Eldest dd has hot dinners and dd2 has packed lunch. She has allergies and I wouldn't trust school meals to be ok for her tbh.

fluffy where do you live?? That's so expensive! Ours are £2.15 a day and that's in an 'expensive' borough..

And yes you can make pack lunch for less

Lovelygoldboots Mon 11-Feb-13 10:48:41

I am so old I can remember when everyone had school dinners, pre Thatcher. Pretty rank they were too.

WilsonFrickett Mon 11-Feb-13 10:49:35

To my shame, I didn't listen to DS about how much he hated school lunches when he started school. He then spent a half a term not eating anything. His lovely teacher then pointed out that she wouldn't eat anything served to the children, and all my practicing of him making choices (because there were choices on the menu) were a waste of time because there was never enough of each item to enable children to make choices. (I'm hoping this is because they kept veggie food back for veggies and religious kids but wouldn't bet the house on it.)

There is no way I'd make my child eat a plate of processed slop at my expense.

ouryve Mon 11-Feb-13 10:49:52

Our primary school lunches are subsidised, at £1.50 each, but the portions are tiny and the boys won't eat most of what's on offer. Last time he was on school dinner, the weight fell off DS1 because he wasn't getting enough calories.

Given that most of the choices seemed to involve beef, pastry and a pudding of some sort of cake with custard, all (except the cake) things he doesn't even like, there's no wonder the weight was falling off him. He eats a decent range of veg, but doesn't like school dinner veg.

I'd rather he stuck with his sarnie (always with some salad in) plus a load of bits and pieces of varying healthiness.

Interesting reading everyone's comments on this thread, as it show just how much things have changed over the last 40 years or so. When I was at primary school (just over 40 years ago) everyone at my school had school lunches, apart from a very few hildren who lived close to the school and went home for lunch. There were no packed lunches.There was only ever one main course and one pudding option, but most children ate most of the lunch. No-one ever thought to refuse to pay or to smuggle junk food into the school.

The other thing that I wonder though, is if this went ahead, how would schools cope with children with food allergies? Far more children seem to have allergies and intolerances these days, and in the case of severe allergies I'm not sure a school canteen would be able to guarantee that all food would be safe for all children.

Panzee Mon 11-Feb-13 10:51:57

I would do this, but make all dinners free as well.

freddiefrog Mon 11-Feb-13 10:52:01

We've recently changed school lunch providers and until they get their act together and ensure there's enough food to go round, and the food is good quality and healthy, there's no way I'll be paying £2.50 x 2 per day

I can provide a good, healthy lunch for 2 girls for the price of 1 dinner

Parents who don't care what their kids eat, still won't care. Parents who do care are just annoyed it

TomArchersSausage Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:22

Gosh the word 'ban' gets used an awful lot nowadayshmm. And yet the reality of banning anything means an awful lot of expensive backup and legislation to enforce it.

Instead of banning packed lunches (which they won't cos it's a mad ill thought out idea anyway) why don't they just accept that as far as healthy eating goes they can only ever advise about food/exercise/lifestyle blah blah and then back the hell off. If people want to feed themselves or their kids crap then they will.

EdgarAllanPond Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:26

so, the government haven't proposed this

a non-thread then.

let's not get our knickers in a twist about it.

AngelsWithSilverWings Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:27

I'd fight against a ban all the way.

My kids get a healthy balanced packed lunch , sticking to the school's healthy food policy, and then a home cooked meal in the evening.

The hot dinners at our school are not healthy in my opinion and until they improve the quality my DCs will not be having them.

WorriedMummy73 Mon 11-Feb-13 10:54:00

My oldest 2 have school dinners, as they like the food (pretty good at their school) and we're entitled to free dinners. Youngest takes the same packed lunch every day - cheese spread on 50/50 roll, fruit juice, yoghurt, small treat. He is a massively fussy eater and won't even contemplate a school dinner when it's pizza (which he actually likes)! He would simply refuse food if they brought this in. It'll never happen.

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 10:54:25

Packed lunches were banned at DD's school (private school so they can do that; only exceptions for severe allergies, I think) and as far as I can tell, she hasn't eaten a balanced meal since. She is vegetarian, and while they do a vegetarian option every day, it is nearly always something covered in melted cheese or otherwise massively greasy. She hates cheese, and won't eat really greasy things. I think part of the idea is that lack of choice and peer pressure will encourage fussy eaters to eat everything, but that certainly hasn't worked for DD in the 18 months since they changed the rules.

So pretty much every day I am paying £3 for a protein-free lunch of half a baked potato (with nothing on - the only options are cheese or tuna), a few bits of salad and a small pudding (which she often doesn't eat either - runny jellies etc). She would be having a much more nutritious lunch if I could still send her in with a packed lunch - I often did Japanese-style bento with rice, tofu, vegetables etc.

givemeaclue Mon 11-Feb-13 10:57:18

My sil is in France, no packed lunches allowed, but school dinner excellent. But she pays 6 euros per child per day for lunch, in pounds she pays £240 per month for 3 kids lunches (4 days per week)

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 10:58:06

They can't enforce this. They can not force parents to pay for lunches kids will not eat. Many kids will have special dietary needs and many parents will have objections. It won't happen.

And at many schools I do not believe the school dinners are at all healthy or nutritious - at our school they are basically ready meals made by a profit-making private company who will no doubt use the cheapest ingredients they can find.

DD is suspicious of what's in them (hidden veg she won't eat grin ) and I am suspicious of what's in them (crap).

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 10:59:53

School dinners sound lovely in France.

I think many would feel differently in this country if schools cooked fresh meals but they do not - round here they all reheat mass-produced ready meals.

PavlovtheCat Mon 11-Feb-13 11:00:15

I went to school for lunch a couple of weeks ago, parents of the class get invited. It was minging. I had macaroni cheese and I cannot say there was any cheese in the stodgey overcooked slop on my plate. the carrots may once have been freshly cut but were so overcooked there would have been zero goodness in it. Others had the healthy option of jacket potato - dry, no butter, or spread, and dry lettuce leaves. No wonder she rarely eats it when she has it.

It's been an eye opener for me, as we have been giving her hot school dinners most days in part due to difficulties doing a packed lunch, and partly as it meant not needing to cook her full meals in the evening, just a light supper of scrambled eggs on toast etc, but after this meal, I have made sure she has a fully cooked meal in the evenings too, which defeats the point and so she is back on packed lunches.

TidyDancer Mon 11-Feb-13 11:02:41

The school dinners at DS's school are dire and therefore over my dead body would I be paying for them.

It's not an issue of cost either, I just don't want my DS to have to eat that inedible shit every day.

I realise this isn't likely to actually become a regulation, but if it was I think we would continue to send in packed lunches and defy the ban, or it would have to be home for lunches.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 11-Feb-13 11:03:07

It would be appalling of true however I'm reasonably sure it couldn't be enforced. I have three DCs in three different schools and the veggie and (especially) vegan provision in each is atrocious. This morning I had an (unsolicited) email from one of the schools explaining its 'meat policy'. If they had spent half as much energy on their vegetarian policy then my DC wouldn't have to eat packed lunch outside (whatever the whether, rain, sun, or snow) every day. She isn't even allowed to have peanut butter sandwiches yet they don't provide a proper veggie option in the canteen at all (just rancid non vegetarian cheese based slop). It's outrageous.

ComposHat Mon 11-Feb-13 11:03:39

It is precicsely none of school's business what parents chose to feed their children.

Advise about nutrition by all means, but banning things from lunchboxes is as far as I am concerned way out of order.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 11:04:33

>I think part of the idea is that lack of choice and peer pressure will encourage fussy eaters to eat everything,

My DDs primary didn't allow packed lunches, and I think there were days when she didn't eat much at all (other than breaktime fruit) - she didn't even like potato! But by the end she was less fussy - I nearly fell off my chair when she asked for cabbage.

But on the whole it would probably have been better if she'd had packed lunches.

BobbiFleckmann Mon 11-Feb-13 11:06:25

it's not a government proposal but the idea put forward by the advisors (both of whom I know personally) is based on the economics of school catering. At present the uptake is so low that the volume discount from bulk buying doesn't kick in which makes the lunches more expensive per unit - the point is that the more people take school lunch, the cheaper it should / will become while still being able to factor in an improvement in quality.
The two advisors do run a successful restaurant chain, one cooks himself but they met at and their background is in management consultancy - they are bloody sharp business brains and their paper is based on the economics of school catering as well as the nutrition / healthy eating.
a lot of their ideas will remain just that - I can't think of many schools who are going to have the facilities to be able to offer cooking lessons for all pupils enabling them to have a repertoire of 20 dishes by the time they leave - lovely idea, but likely to be madly impractical.

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 11:06:50

Our school has "chicken sausages" - gawd knows what's in them sad

A parent I know has been to an event where parents can try the school dinners and said they were inedible. Her DD was immediately switched to packed lunches.

Primrose123 Mon 11-Feb-13 11:07:12

This wouldn't have worked for us. My DDs are now in secondary school, but the school dinners in primary school were expensive and not good quality.

DD1 is extremely fussy, and if I had paid for her to have school dinners I might as well have put the money straight in the bin. There is no way she would have eaten the food they serve. She only likes dry food, not mixed, and there are loads of food she doesn't like. The peer pressure argument doesn't work for her, believe me, I've tried it. I accept now that she only likes a limited range of food, and I give her healthy packed lunches that she enjoys.

DD2 is the complete opposite. She loves her food and will eat practically anything! She occasionally had school dinners as she wanted to try them. The roast dinners were good, but some of the others were awful. There was supposed to be a choice, but ususally there wasn't. Very often, her lunch would be pizza and spaghetti hoops. They seemed to serve spaghetti hoops every day! Also, by the time she got to year 6, the portions were just too small. She was 5 foot 3 in in year 6 - very tall and skinny like a bean pole - but she was always hungry! Yet she was given the same size meal as a small child in reception!

Packed lunches work so much better for us. I would resent having to pay for food that my children might not like, and I wouldn't have any control over it, and wouldn't know if it was healthy or not.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 11:08:23

If there are going to be school lunch police, shouldn't the emphasis be on insisting that children do have certain items (some sort of protein, some fruit/veg) rather than banning anything? Not that this is enforceable either, but it seems that 'healthy eating' comes across as unhealthy negativity about food rather than the positives.

TroublesomeEx Mon 11-Feb-13 11:09:02

I'm horrified at the school dinners offered actually.

My daughter has been having school dinners since Christmas because many of her friends have them and she wanted to give them a go.

But pizza, plain pasta, mixed veg and a cake and custard is a very interesting take on a 'healthy' meal.

Her packed lunches were so healthy sad We might have to go back.

WorraLiberty Mon 11-Feb-13 11:10:13

It wouldn't work in my DS's school.

It's one of the largest Primary schools in London and kids already have to eat their packed lunches in a classroom because the 2 dining halls are full...despite them staggering lunchtimes.

SignoraStronza Mon 11-Feb-13 11:13:21

Dc's (state) primary offers school meals 100% cooked on site (I know the lovely lady who cooks them) and made from locally sourced ingredients - but we are in a farming County. The menu looks lovely! To me, is well worth the £2 a day to ensure she has a decent meal, especially on days I have to rush her out for activities. Also dh sometimes doesn't get home until late so means I can give her beans or egg on toast or something and cook us a proper meal for later.

Appreciate we're really lucky here though also only have one dc at school at the moment.

jamdonut Mon 11-Feb-13 11:15:25

Meals in the school I work at are lovely! I have one now and again,if I've nothing in my cupboard to take for lunch! I eat exactly what the children are having. It is very rare that processed things on the menu.
But it becomes expensive for more than one child,which is why I never paid for mine to have them (just slightly above the free school meals threshold!)

Pandemoniaa Mon 11-Feb-13 11:15:57

There's no way that packed lunches will be banned. Not least because it is incredibly difficult to introduce legislation that bans anything, let alone something that would create an enormous hoo-hah and would be almost impossible to enforce anyway.

If schools want pupils to eat school dinners then the ball is in their court. Reduce the price and introduce edible and healthy food. Until then, parents will continue to opt for the usually far superior packed lunch.

russian she can't have peanut butter because another child (like mine) could die just by sitting next to her.

No nut policy pretty much everywhere nowadays I think?

gorionine Mon 11-Feb-13 11:18:01

I totally desagree with theidea of it!

I work as a dinner lady and the children on school lunches do :

a) chose the same backed potato every day
b) when they do not choose the baked potato they eat about a fifth of the lunch and bin the rest.

I see a lot of lunchboxes (including my own Dcs) that are healthy enough and when they come back home with si.ll food in them, at least the parents do
know exactly what their children have eaten.
I know if my Dcs were on school lunches (which are not bad at all, I eat them frequently myself --I sneakily add salt and pepper on mine though--blush) they would answer I had such and such but totally omit to say they have not actually eaten half of it. When school lunch become compulsory I will home school my Dcs (primary school ones), the ones in high school are able to choose food that is reasonably healthy and actually eat it.

anklebitersmum Mon 11-Feb-13 11:18:22

It will be a cold day in hell when I allow my children to eat the junk that they serve up for children in schools..barr the Christmas type meal which by definition has to have sprouts, proper meat and real veg.

I'll be sending mine with soups, cottage pie and spag bol regardless.

Not that it'll ever happen anyway.

gorionine Mon 11-Feb-13 11:18:51

Please be indulgent with my spelling skills, it is the holidays!

I wouldn't want to eat a school dinner so why would I want my son to? It isn't particularly healthy, but more importantly it's vile! I cook my son a fresh, healthy dinner every evening. I would not pay for a school dinner. Like someone else said, if people and their children want to eat crap, they will do. I would also add that when I was a child only children who came from poor backgrounds had a school dinner, but none of them were fat and they ate a lot of chips! It is the lack of exercise that causes the problem.

sheeplikessleep Mon 11-Feb-13 11:19:04

Signora - you are exceptionally lucky, can I send my DS? wink
I'd give my right arm to have home cooked nutritious food and would go for that 5 days a week if it was offered. I'd pay more than the £2 a day too. I appreciate the money is, I think part of the problem. I'd very happily pay more than £2 a day if it was what I'd call a proper meal.

Like Folkgirl, our local primary seems to offer pizza, roast (I'm sure from processed meat), fish shapes, cake and custard. From what I can tell, veg is basically peas and sweetcorn.

That also really irks me - I would put in a biscuit or little piece cake one day a week into DSs lunchbox as a treat. BUT, we're not allowed. Despite cake seeming to be offered every day on the school dinners!

I think it would be great if more children had a school dinner.

My DC's have always had school dinners and it's a shame they're now in a minority. I like the opportunity for them to have a healthy and hot meal with some of their 5 a day vegetables and fruit. They've always been very positive about them - especially the puddings which they rarely get at home !

In my day nearly everyone had the school dinner - but then they were only 12p in those days ! There used to be just one small table of "packed lunches" in a huge hall of 400 children (perhaps not all at once though it sounded like it !)

So, they need to be more affordable, and keep working on being healthy, appealing, nutritious, and with some choices for all.

I think free dinners for all would actually be a good investment in our children's health and well-being, and a very helpful support to families. You could even take something off child benefit for the funding of it ? Would be more inclusive if all children were included in free meals too, rather than as at present.

ChristmasJubilee Mon 11-Feb-13 11:38:06

Our school dinners are freshly cooked in the school kitchen and are locally sourced. At £1.80 I think they are reasonable and ds3 has them every day. The children choose what they want from the menu in the morning and are given a wrist band. This ensures enough of each meal is made for those that want it. I can't stand doing packed lunches - although we don't have lunchbox police!

SamanthaStormer Mon 11-Feb-13 11:39:20

Who would pay to enforce that one, then?! As I know I couldn't afford £20 a week for school dinners on top of everything else to pay out.
There's nothing wrong with packed lunches, and at least with packed lunches I know they're getting a healthy, balanced dinner.
They'll have a tuna or chicken and cucumber sandwich/roll, something like that, a piece of fruit such as an apple, banana or pear, a yoghurt, a home baked flapjack or muffin or something for dessert.
Then they always get a hot cooked meal at home in the evening with plenty of veg.
It's patronising and insulting to think all parents are too stupid to feed their kids properly and need to be told how to do it by forcing them to adhere to so called healthy guidelines.
I already know what's healthy and not, thanks.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 11:41:58

Sorry I absolutely refuse to pay for school dinners for several reasons.

Firstly I feed my 3 children a very healthy balanced diet.I am not going to subsidise those that don't several of whom will get their school dinners paid for.

School dinners are far too expensive for what they are and quite frankly not good enough quality.

Our school cooks it's food on site but is beholden to the provider who wants to make a profit and the food it sells isn't good enough imvho.

I have 3 kids and refuse to/can't pay £2.10 a head for meals that don't fill them up as they are far too small,are often not what they've chosen because they have run out,are way too carb heavy(cheap) and to be quite frank they simply don't like.Said meals are often not half as healthy as the packed lunch that I send or fit into our balanced daily diet as a whole.We also like to eat a hot meal together as a family and I'm not paying £2.10 for a sandwich/snack meal.

So no I'll never pay for school dinners,said advisors are rather insulting to be frank.Many parents are feeding their kids healthily,many aren't however forcing those that do into school dinners isn't a way to solve the problem.

Why should already stretched families fund parents who can't feed their kids properly?The gov needs to get off it's backside and stump up the cash themselves alongside better education,sport facilities and vigorous food advertising controls.Controlling what academies give their kids which Jamie Oliver is arguing for and Gove is riding roughshod over would help too.

WilsonFrickett Mon 11-Feb-13 11:44:14

Our (lovely) HT mentioned the possibility of restricting snacks in lunchboxes. Thankfully we were in the dinner hall when she did it so had the opportunity to point out the utter shit wide range of snacks and sweets on the school dinner menu so that put paid to that. The packed lunch option on the school dinner menu is one of the most unhealthy things I've ever seen.

WilsonFrickett Mon 11-Feb-13 11:46:16

And on 60 posts there's - what? 3? people saying their school meals are healthy/well sourced/freshly cooked. That's a shocking percentage if it's a true representation of the whole country.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 11:47:54

Oh our school has a fruit only policy which apparently includes fruit products that are little more than sweets being a bag half full of sugar.I don't want my dc consuming that much sugar and having a sugar plummet half way through the morning.

My dc can't get through until 1pm on an apple so they have a doctors note(ridiculous)in order to have cheese/oatcakes/low sugar flapjack I make too.

TroublesomeEx Mon 11-Feb-13 11:50:04

I worked at a school where Fruit Winders were accepted as a healthy breaktime snack.


TroublesomeEx Mon 11-Feb-13 11:51:02

I had a real issue with that every time I was shown one and found it difficult to not say

"well the rules say I have to let you eat that, but it's not fruit and it's not healthy".

Bite your tongue Mrs FG, bite your tongue!

valiumredhead Mon 11-Feb-13 11:52:01

I'm happy for ds to have school dinners at his school, the kitchen is on site and everything cooked daily including fresh bread.

His old school was re heated slop.

This can't happen. Imagine the outrage. And how do they plan
On dealing with the many dietary requirements? Some I gather for religious reasons alone have to be prepared in different places and be stored in different fridges etc.


My child would be in tears at the thought of soggy veg again

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:12:08

There is no way it could happen,silly,silly advisers.

When I eat out and pay for food I expect decent portions,what I ordered and properly cooked food.

The queues of disgruntled parents wanting a refund when their kids came home complaining of feeling hungry,not having the food they asked for or poorly cooked food would be out of the front door of any school.

When you choose to pay it's bad enough but if you were forced to(which I very much doubt could happen) I for one would be ensuring I got value for money and what I paid for.

Scholes34 Mon 11-Feb-13 12:17:08

I very much doubt anyone could ban packed lunches. Despite the fact that schools are cooking in large quantities, it's much cheaper to produce a meal for the family at home - our school lunches are £2.10 a day, and for £10.50 a day I can produce something much more substantial for a family of five in the evening.

When I was in the infants and juniors (40 years ago), everyone had a hot school lunch if they didn't go home for lunch, but I remember the teachers always ate with us. Liver was always the most popular meal. I don't know what Sheffield City Council's catering staff did to it, but there were never any left-overs or waste.

freddiefrog Mon 11-Feb-13 12:18:12

To be fair, our old school meals provider was fab, lovely and healthy food, good variety, decent portions and enough to go round, all for £1.60.

Then the council changed suppliers and this new one is awful. Meals seem to consist of pizza and jacket potatoes, there's never enough to go round so the last class to go in end up with odd bits of bread, all for £2.50

If they go back to the old provider, we'll go back to having more school meals, but in the mean time it's packed lunches all the way

We've got a couple of fab thermos lunch flasks so they have a lot of hot soup and left over stews or pasta, which I'd rather they have than the fish and chips on today's school dinner menu

I think your right Polka and all they could do is offer free meals to all children, I agree they couldn't "ban" packed lunches or somehow force parents to pay for a school dinner for their child. Like you, just don't see that working.
Though as I said I'm happy with school dinners and would like to see their uptake encouraged.

miemohrs Mon 11-Feb-13 12:27:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:27:47

Freddie that soooooo sounds like what happened to us. This is exactly what happens which is exactly why I've stopped letting them have it even for a treat.

Several final straws for me were dtwin 2 coming home upset as he ordered salmon pieces which they ran out of and them giving him a limp,cold sausage roll instead.I don't let mine eat processed red meat products so was livid.Another day they ran out of chips so he got bread.They get 2 bloody limp fish fingers and the jacket potatoes don't come with cheese or anything else(they used to be lovely).I'm not convinced by the sausage quality and a friend if mine on helping with lunch was horrified as to how little they actually got.I dare not go in as I may well combust and the kids would die of embarrassment.

Dd was an a table where all the KS1 children were having the dessert she ordered and she was told there wasn't enough for her so she got cheesehmm.

They make ks1 a priority and they get the same size portions.A 9 year old needs more than a 4 year old.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:31:06

And sorry how exactly is fish,chips,cake and milkshake all in one meal healthy?

They also don't insist they have veg on their plate. Dtwin2 will happily go veg free however if I pay £2.10 I want him to eat some veg.If he has a packed lunch I know what veg he has eaten,make him at it later and provide the veg he'll eat.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:32:53

Yes my dc said the fish fingers are grey,maybe pollack which is fine but I'm not convinced they're 100% pollack.

Oh and they have those crappy artificial diet yogs with sweeteners(another thing I don't like my dc having).

miemohrs Mon 11-Feb-13 12:33:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:33:20

Will sit on my hands now blush.

My DC's are vegetarian so perhaps that helps with concerns about the quality of the ingredients, but can be a problem regarding choice

Bonsoir Mon 11-Feb-13 12:36:26

School lunch time is a big headache everywhere. In France, we are likely to have three-hour lunch breaks as of September 2013...

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:36:32

Oh and the year6 get the same size as rec-bonkers.Some of those boys are giants.How can a strapping great growing boy go all day in an apple at playtime then 2 friggin fishfingers(if he's lucky),6 chips(my dd once counted them) and a diet yog?

My dd used to have school dinners. She hated them. And never ate the veg. Result one tired pale little girl who's now much healthier eating packed lunches with home made fruit muffins or proper roast chicken in the sandwiches. Not only does she eat all of it she enjoys it.

I still feel guilty keeping her on the school dinners but I thought she was just being fussy blush then the company went bust so quality was probably shit once they hit the trouble sad

Never again!!

The youngest children definitely get too much as well Polka ( I've been a TA so know from experience) - surely there could at least be different portion sizes for Key Stage 1 & 2 ?

Scholes34 Mon 11-Feb-13 12:40:16

Diet yogurt? Surely the children need some sugar to give them energy. Yuk to all those artificial sweeteners.

Dromedary Mon 11-Feb-13 12:41:41

Our primary school is constantly going on about how healthy school lunches are. In fact they are mostly red meat (EVERYONE knows it's not healthy to eat much of that, even if it's not affected by mad cow disease and isn't actually horse), plus farmed salmon (may be carcinogenic), and pizza. And lots of cake and biscuits for pudding.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 12:43:28

Our school has problems getting the money off those that order them.Would be impossible to get money off an entire school and a huge amount of parents who don't want them anyway.

What are they going to do exclude kids or take parents to court for something they never ordered or asked for in the first place?

elliejjtiny Mon 11-Feb-13 12:51:56

The school my DC's go to has food cooked fresh on the premises with a choice of 3 main courses and 2 puddings. We order the meals a week in advance and there are always leftovers for those children who want seconds. There is always roast dinners 2x a week and things like lasagne, spag bol, pasta bake, cottage pie etc other days. We pay £2.20 per child per day which I think is great value, especially as DS1 in year 2 eats a year 6 sized portion and then goes back for seconds (wish I could eat that much and stay thin like he does).

I don't think enforcing school dinners would work unless there was that kind of quality and choice at every school. Even then it would have to be free/a lot cheaper and packed lunches should always be available to those who had special dietry requirements for allergies or religious reasons.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 11-Feb-13 12:53:40

@girls But she is allergic to dairy. As am I. Yet they don't ban dairy. Vegetarians and vegans need protein. Schools seem unprepared to provide it. Nuts are banned (but dairy isn't and our dairy allergy is severe). Are my kids just supposed to starve? Apparently they are.

lainiekazan Mon 11-Feb-13 13:05:00

When I was at primary school in the 70s school dinners were compulsory at our school. The school was very small, so they were able to provide such excellent dinners that the mums used to complain that their dcs turned their noses up at home food! We were also highly trained in table manners such that no child left that school - no matter where they came from - with excellent manners.

Obviously in the dc's school (100 per year) this couldn't happen. But it makes me sad that their school dinner experience is so far away from the one I had. School dinners on plastic trays - prison style - and no intervention in manner of eating. No child left my school holding a knife like a pen!

But packed lunches... it's not just the kids who may bring chocolate and crisps, it's the sheer amount of stuff some have in their boxes. No wonder many children are on the large size - they may be eating healthy stuff lovingly made by Totally Organic Mummies (many of whom strut around MN) but I have witnessed children ploughing through gargantuan portions of food inappropriate to their size and age.

lainiekazan Mon 11-Feb-13 13:05:52

"no child left school with excellent manners" whoops! without excellent manners!

Bonsoir Mon 11-Feb-13 13:14:01

lainiekazan - the Headmistress at my girls' prep school was a stickler for table manners and made us all eat our pudding with a spoon and fork. We were served at table and everyone had to wait until we were all served in order to say grace before we started eating.

My mother has no memory of it being difficult to instil table manners in us, and I am sure that the difference between then and now is that many children eat in school canteens where no-one is bothering to teach them to acquire proper eating habits.

Notcontent Mon 11-Feb-13 13:27:36

Well, there seems to be general consensus on that proposal! grin


We need a "shove it" emoticon

KC225 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:41:24

My children have packed lunches but the school has a very strict packed lunch policy.

Lunchtime supervisors check the lunchboxes for 'contraband' ie chocolate, crisps etc. My children were sent home with unopened cereal bars and a terse note as DH had mistakenly packed the treat bars with chocolate chips. At first I thought it was a little over the top but actually I think it sets a high bar

lainiekazan Mon 11-Feb-13 13:43:37

Yes, Bonsoir. My school was not a private school - it was a village school and the pupils came from all sorts of backgrounds. But as I said, no child left with inferior table manners - a skill for life.

I have goggled at how some children eat now. With their fingers, or holding knife and fork in their fists. Do they acquire better manners by osmosis, or do they grow into people whose eating habits will badly let them down?

I'm not talking about the knowledge of how to eat an artichoke or other poncey stuff designed to trip someone up, but basic skills that should not be considered "elitist".

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Mon 11-Feb-13 13:49:51

I am stunned that there are schools out there who run out of food before the last kids come in. That's appalling. And that's before you even start on the quality issues.

Dromedary Mon 11-Feb-13 13:52:18

Our shool forbids sweets etc in lunch packs, but supports the weekly evangelical christian club bribing the children there with sweets hmm

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 13:57:10

The vegetarian "choice" at our school is usually quorn based - so more processed food, and not all veggies I know even like it. So these kids often end up with bread for lunch.

And yy to those who have mentioned school packed lunches - I have seen a school packed lunch (on a school trip) consisting of a thin soggy processed cheese-slice sandwich, a bruised apple, crisps, and a chocolate bar confused

NotAnotherPackedLunch Mon 11-Feb-13 14:00:15

It'll never happen.
Just imagine the chaos as the blizzard of Freedom of Information requests arrive asking to know the provenance and species of animal that the compulsory school meals are made from.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 11-Feb-13 14:01:47

@salad Quorn isn't even vegan. sad

AugustaProdworthy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:02:07

Talking about it now on Five Live

russian my sympathies with the dairy allergy it's a pita. She was allergic to dairy until 2.5 then thankfully grew out of it.
I guess nuts are easier to put a total ban on?
She is also allergic to eggs and sesame seeds which she has had anaphylactic reactions to and those wouldn't be banned.

PolkadotCircus Mon 11-Feb-13 14:04:40

Hmmm see Kc I don't buy that when the school dinners have very refined cakes,biscuits and puddings in them.

Tis double standards.

Also my filling home made banana / choc cake which uses up my rancid bananas (so cheap)and is made with loads of banana,w/m flour and reduced sugar I can guarantee would be deemed as contraband but would be waaaay healthier than some of the puddings I've seen on school dinner menus.

If a child has had a w/m sandwich,carrot sticks,cucumber sticks,cheese or yog I don't get what is wrong with a cereal bar containing choc chips if the rest of the day is balanced too.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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'

(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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