to think even Gove wouldn''t ban packed lunches

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

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.

fluffyraggies Fri 12-Jul-13 07:35:01


Meals in our local primary are £2 a go and pretty grim.

I had 3 DCs in that school a few years ago. That would have been £30 per week for crap food!

I think not.

Jan49 Fri 12-Jul-13 07:36:56

I can't imagine packed lunches being banned.

But I am amazed at what some parents put in the packed lunch. In particular, the amount of food - sandwich, crisps, a cheese straw thing, yogurt, apple, drink, chocolate bar, all in the same lunch for one child. I doubt whether many parents would expect to have 6 items for a light lunch so why do their children need to? It seems far too much as well as not good food. I made a packed lunch for my ds for years and it was usually a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a drink.

musicposy Fri 12-Jul-13 07:38:56

Well when I was at school <dark ages alert> we weren't allowed to take in lunches. You either had school dinners (99%of pupils) or your parents took you home for lunch (a small handful). There were no facilities provided to eat lunch at school.
Not debating the right or wrongs here, just that it I guess it would be possible and the idea of packet lunches is a relatively recent (last 30 to 35 years) one.

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 07:39:32

Academies will be exempt, so either parents will vote with their feet or more primaries will become academies.
How will this affect children with a restricted diet?
Such as my Aspie DS who took exactly the same foodstuffs in his packed lunch every day for 5 years?
Who would either have had a meltdown, or refused to eat a school dinner between the ages of 5-13?

siblingrevelry Fri 12-Jul-13 07:42:29

I've just seen this and I'm incensed. I'm usually a bit 'meh' and refuse to get het up but this is one issue that gets my goat.

I send packed lunches for two (I believe) very good reasons.

1) Cost. £2.10 a day, currently have two in school, will soon have three. I can do a packed lunch way for a fraction of that.

2) IMO school lunches aren't 'healthy'. Controversial, I realise, but even our approved catered lunches aren't what I would want my children to eat (and I speak with quite a good nutritional knowledge). Most dishes which are marketed as healthy and wholesome are loaded with cheese and I just feel generally the choices aren't good (on our menu we have 'fish fingers and tomato ketchup' listed as an option, as if tomato ketchup were a side dish or veg option!). They still contain much more processed food than I would be happy with.

I went to our school play last night and was horrified at the amount of overweight children in the school. As a former (and still fighting the flab!) fatty I feel so sorry for the kids who are having the battle so early on, I could see them shrinking to the back like I used to. I can;t say with any certainty that they all have school dinners, but it's clear that somewhere along the way they are being given unhealthy meals or too much food.

We need some sense from the powers that be. Instead of banning packed lunches because a few people insist on sending crap (how hard can it be: sandwich, fruit, drink, A N other option?)

echt Fri 12-Jul-13 07:42:30

Banning packed lunches would force the purchase of foods supplied by the usual suspects, Compass, all of whom provide the current dreck served in English schools. The report recommending the banning of packed lunches was commissioned by Leon, a food company.

Nuff said.

BasilBabyEater Fri 12-Jul-13 07:42:59

I don't see how they can do this either - if they do, there are going to be some very hungry kids around.

I've done a quick calculation. At my kids' school, school dinners are £2.90 a day. 2 kids, 5 days a week, 6 week terms = £174 a term, more in the 7 and 8 week terms in the Autumn.

That sum of money would be bloody crippling for me to find and it's an unnecessary luxury. It costs more than piano lessons, on which I would rather spend the money - long term, piano playing is a life skill and pleasure of more benefit than having had some nice school dinners.

Posh people who have no idea claim that there isn't much difference in price between that and packed lunches but as I said, if yr packed lunches are healthy, they have no idea. They also claim that if you can't afford them, free school meals are available, but they are only available if you are on certain benefits which most people aren't. I remember trying to claim free school meals when I was earning £8,000 p.a. had NHS exemptions etc. and tax credits - still no free school dinners, so kids had packed lunches.

It's only do-able if they provide free school dinners for everyone.

BasilBabyEater Fri 12-Jul-13 07:43:44

Really Echt?

The BBC didn't mention that.

Piss poor reporting there.

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 07:44:34

The food wastage with school dinners is very high in my school, around a third of children don't clear their plate of what is a small meal.

littlewhitebag Fri 12-Jul-13 07:46:22

My DD took a packed lunch to school every day containing almost the same thing as she was very fussy.

Then we moved her to a private school where they were provided with a hot lunch daily. Fast forward a few years and she now eats a vast range of food and will eat the lunch, even if she doesn't really like it because she is hungry.

I would say the majority of children would get used to having the school lunches and maybe expand what they already eat.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 12-Jul-13 07:46:29

I don't think it would be possible for packed lunches to be banned completely in many schools. Our school doesn't have a big enough servery or dining room to accommodate all children, and the majority have packed lunch. There would have to be a lot of money put into expanding the school if all children started having packed lunches, and I'm sure our school can't be the only one like this.

Most days, the school lunches are really good, but there are a few meals that look completely unappetising, usually pasta based ones.

ddubsgirl Fri 12-Jul-13 07:48:15

With 3 kids it would cost me over £30 a week vs £20 a week I pay for pack lunch stuff plus dh use to cook school dinners he walked out on the job as it was so bad and swore the kids would never eat school dinners again!! To force those already on the thin line will cause too much debt

LisaMed Fri 12-Jul-13 07:48:59

DS was on school lunches for the first two terms. I reasoned that he would have fresh food and lots of variety. However when he came home I always had to have a sandwich waiting for him as he was famished, really hungry. It wasn't treats he was after, but solid food, it was ridiculous.

After he tried to persuade his friend's mum to make a packed lunch (so he could sit with his friends) I caved and made him a packup. I do stuff it with a small sandwich, something fresh like cucumber sticks or a tomato or a satsuma and pack of raisins or similar and a lot of it comes home and he is never hungry like he used to be. The school lunch portions must have been mouse sized!

I will fight tooth and nail before he is stopped having a pack up as I don't agree with children being hungry as a regular thing. Not when it is just inadequate feeding when it doesn't have to be. DS will eat anything so it's not that he had been leaving stuff at school as he does with his lunch.

Anyway, speaking of which, I had better go and make ds's packup now.

minibmw2010 Fri 12-Jul-13 07:49:26

As may be littlewhitebag and that is a positive of course. But if parents can't afford it they can't afford it !!

5madthings Fri 12-Jul-13 07:49:52

Crap idea. Yanbu. My pack ups are healthy anywsy and with four kids at school.i can make pack ups for less cost that school dinners. School dinners are crap anyway and cake and custurd most days for pudding....really healthy...
They arr discusding this on r5 at the moment.

BlackeyedSusan Fri 12-Jul-13 07:50:54

the bbc mentioned it on radio 4 echt.

why should the few who pprovide healthy pcked lunches., have to have less healthy school dinners with no contriol over the options children choose. and he would choose the unhealthy option. I suspect the majority of packed lunches are about as healthy as school lunches and only a few are terrible.

they did say though that 2/3 hve crisps and 2/3 have confectionary. why not ban those?

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 07:53:06

LWB, there are a number of children who are fussy eaters and would eat a range of foods if they were properly hungry. Absolutely true.
There are children with sensory issues involving texture and taste and visual input that really wouldn't.
So if packed lunches were banned, I would have given DS breakfast, , gone to schoo, largel fruit-based snack for break. Then he'd have stared at the lunch without eating if you were lucky, and been collected at 3.30pm with a packed tea to eat ASAP and then dinner in the evening.
Expanding his diet has happened very slowly, fortunately puberty affected his sensory issues in a positive fashion and hit early at 12.

MegBusset Fri 12-Jul-13 07:55:02

It will be completely unworkable. DS1 has packed lunches because he's got multiple food allergies; at Christmas I tried for three weeks to get an ingredient list for their school Xmas lunch, without success - neither the school nor the external supplier could tell me what was in it. No way would I take chances with my son's health when they have no idea what's in their food.

manicinsomniac Fri 12-Jul-13 07:55:59

Packed lunches aren't allowed at my school. 400ish children all manage to eat, including my 10 year old who is an absolute nightmare with food and several children with severe allergies/intolerances to various things.

It works.

I don't see the need to ban packed lunches in all schools though, what's the point? Let schools do what suits them.

BasilBabyEater Fri 12-Jul-13 08:02:56

Are the lunches free, manicinsomniac?

manicinsomniac Fri 12-Jul-13 08:08:15

It's a private school so they'll be included in the fees.

echt Fri 12-Jul-13 08:16:42

The Guardian online has an article on this.I'm crap at links, but it's on the homepage.

Jinsei Fri 12-Jul-13 08:18:46

My dd used to have packed lunches and she enjoyed them on the whole, but I switched her to sandwiches because I didn't feel that she was getting a decent meal. She is pescatarian, so apart from fish fingers every now and then, she had the vegetarian option. There was a lot of processed fake "meat" which she didn't enjoy, and she ended up eating just the carbs and some vegetables every day - very little protein and lots of stodge. hmm

BasilBabyEater Fri 12-Jul-13 08:20:55

Right. So that's why it works.

It's not really relevant to the 93% of children who are educated in the state sector though. That's what the report is talking about - banning school dinners in state schools.

BasilBabyEater Fri 12-Jul-13 08:22:40

My DC's school has excellent school meals, but so what? We can't afford them.

wordfactory Fri 12-Jul-13 08:24:26

At DC's prep school there were no packed lunches.

Everyone sat down together and ate a hot lunch (always a choice).

Same at DD's secondary school (private).

Far more civilised, I think. And I wish they insisted upon it at DS school!

hackmum Fri 12-Jul-13 08:24:31

musicposy - I had packed lunches back in the 1970s, so 40 years ago...

I think it's a mad idea.

cornypony Fri 12-Jul-13 08:26:47

I agree with echt. It's an opportunity to make money. Children who bring packed lunches don't generate any income, no matter how small, but they still need supervision.
Education is becoming an industry and Gove is the force right behind it.

niceguy2 Fri 12-Jul-13 08:27:52

It's getting a bit silly. All these 'bans' from school. Who is the parent? School or the erm...parent?

I have three kids and it costs me over £100 a month for them all to have school dinners. Frankly it's killing us. In a previous relationship I had four kids in total and my ex didn't work. The cost was simply prohibitive. I get that £2 a day isn't a lot of money for a cooked meal to feed a child. But if you have more than one child then the costs shoot up.

The report author's can fuck off.

Goodwordguide Fri 12-Jul-13 08:30:09

School dinners are expensive because so few children have them (I think it's just under 50% on average) - if all children had them, the price would drastically reduce.

I'm not really for or against though and I think it would create an almighty fuss of which schools would bear the brunt when, quite frankly, they have better stuff to be getting on with.

My mother was a reception teacher for years and she banned packed lunches for her class (not sure how she was able to do this though!) as she said they were just too unhealthy and school lunches meant the children got at least one hot meal. Her children were practically all free school meals so cost was less of an issue.

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 08:33:19

To all those saying "my dc has a healthy pack up". I don't think a sandwich, a piece of fruit and drink is a healthy meal. Unless you are doing gourmet fillings and unusual breads. The nutritional content of a cheese/ham sandwich on white bread is pretty shocking really.

niceguy2 Fri 12-Jul-13 08:33:39

One thing I do like about packed lunches is that I can see what my child has eaten or not.

With school dinners I have no clue but I suspect often the youngest eats very little. How's that healthy?

SillyTilly123 Fri 12-Jul-13 08:35:21

My dd's school already does not allow packed lunches. A few weeks ago they had pizza 3 times in 6 days! (my dd1 does not like pizza!) So after the holidays I am going to start bringing them home for lunch (after a few weeks to settle into their new class) I actually had a thread on here about it and some people said it wasn't good that my dds will miss out on lunch time play but i think their nutrition comes before socialising. (dd1 is sooo fussy and hardly eats anything, but will eat ham sandwich, jacket potatoes, plain pasta. Theres only jackets she can get at school and sometimes its with tuna-which she doesnt like)

Jinsei Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:10

To all those saying "my dc has a healthy pack up". I don't think a sandwich, a piece of fruit and drink is a healthy meal. Unless you are doing gourmet fillings and unusual breads. The nutritional content of a cheese/ham sandwich on white bread is pretty shocking really.

Who says packed lunches have to contain sandwiches? DD sometimes has sandwiches, but she also eats pasta, sushi, couscous, quinoa etc. She only has cheese around once a week, whereas in school dinners, cheese was about the only protein she was getting.

echt Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:19

I wonder how many schools have fully-functioning kitchens as they were back in the day at my school. I suspect most have been pared back to re-heat and reassemble previously-prepped foods, and couldn't take on cooking from scratch.

It all leads back to the suppliers. Follow the money, as they say on The Wire.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:20

I dont get the argument that forcing children to eat food they dont like rather than take in the food they do like is automatically a good thing.

Healthy eating is a good thing but just because a meal came out of the school kitchen rather than my kitchen doesnt make it healthy.

This is another of Gove's harking back to the 'good old days' when school was just better.

Problem is I would have been the same year as Gove, school wasnt better.

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:32

Niceguy I don't know about your dc but overall far more dcs are overweight than malnourished (in the caloric sense) in the UK.

Bunnygotwhacked Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:45

My DC's school has excellent school meals, but so what? We can't afford them.
This I have three children in the school at a cost i think of £2.00 per meal thats £6 per day £30 per week of course you have to pay this term wise so that's £360 I would have to find three times a year hang on ill just nip out back and grab some money off the tree shall I?
My older two would love hot dinners and I would love to be able to do it it would make my mornings loads easier but it isnt affordable make them free and watch me run to sign them up. My youngest however would not eat at lunch time to those who say if he is hungry enough he will eat it bollocks i've been trying that for the past 5 years hasnt worked yet. Also if he doesnt eat he turns into a little hulk you wouldnt like me when i'm angry This would be very disruptive for him and the class

TheCrackFox Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:49

The price would not drastically reduce if everyone had school dinners. That is simply not how capitalism works, they will have a monopoly and, if anything, the price will go up.

Britain is becoming a miserable place to be a parent - threats of fines, parents harassed if their child is off too long with a completely valid reason, the assumption that parents are idiots and can't be trusted to feed their children.

I thought the Tories were against the nanny state? If so why are they acting like a Mary Poppins on crack?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Fri 12-Jul-13 08:38:19

Total nonsense and you know full well that allergies won't be properly catered for (excuse the pun). I was a 'fussy eater' and still am to a great extent although I have improved slightly. A lot of it texture based. Certain things made me literally sick - even the smell of toasted cheese would make me heave (still does), don't ask me to eat it. I'd have starved if I couldn't have taken a packed lunch.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Fri 12-Jul-13 08:38:23

Unworkable nonsense.

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 08:38:56

Jinsea your dds lunches sound brilliant. But that is not typical IME.

Exactly echt - not exactly an unbiased report!

It would be a struggle to afford for dd to have school dinner every day. Esp when she was in primary school when the food was absolutely awful - it would have been a waste because it was inedible and so much of the kids food ended up in the bin, with hungry children an hour or so later. Fortunately her secondary is much better and so if she has a long day we do pay for her to have a school dinner.

Katisha Fri 12-Jul-13 08:43:34

DSs have taken packed lunches ever since starting school - 13 and 11 now.

Leaving aside the issue of allergies (they have one to egg) I dont believe the school lunches are any "healthier". Sometimes we've tried them for a week and as mentioned upthread there is usually some sort of cake and custard for pudding. Why is that better than a kitkat? Why are chips better than a sandwich?

Also, I think the catering service fails to realise that most children are conservative eaters (cue cries of Oh my child loves salad) but mine are guaranteed not to want coleslaw or other medleys of raw veg, ratatouille, and similar mixed up recipes. Frankly I think they need to be simpler.

Finally, when they have tried school dinners, it seems to depend on which lunch sitting you are in as to whether you actually get any choice, or whether you get the advertised glass of milk or piece of fruit at all. "Oh they'd run out..." So I don't want to pay for a lucky dip.

Allthingspretty Fri 12-Jul-13 08:44:16

I am not a parent but I think it is disgusting for the gov to be considering overriding parental choice over packed lunches.

Jinsei Fri 12-Jul-13 08:47:58

Jinsea your dds lunches sound brilliant. But that is not typical IME.

Yes, I agree, but I wouldn't want dd to have to eat less healthy school lunches because other parents choose to give their kids crisps/chocolate etc.

Tanith Fri 12-Jul-13 08:58:34

DS attends a prep school (well, he's just left to go to senior school).

I agree - all school dinners and no packed lunches there
the quality is excellent. They have a fully equipped kitchen, a chef and they cook the meals from scratch.
Just how it should be.

By contrast, my DD is about to start state infant school. There is no kitchen and a catering company ships in the meals. I took one look at the advertising brochure and decided she was having packed lunch.
If even the professional food photographer can't make it look appetising, it must be pretty dire. How they justify the cost is beyond me.

My children have dietary restrictions for religious reasons. A packed lunch is a much easier way of ensuring they get a balanced meal especially when they are young. Our school is strict about unhealthy snacks anyway. I have food flasks so I can send in hot food in the winter.

niceguy2 Fri 12-Jul-13 09:03:49

but overall far more dcs are overweight than malnourished (in the caloric sense) in the UK.

I agree but the reasons are more complex than a shit packed lunch. I bet if you looked into those kids who are very overweight then you'd find a home life where crap/cheap preprepared food or takeaways feature very highly along with copious amounts of sugary/fizzy drinks. Also combined with a lack of exercise.

None of which a ban on packed lunches would address.

To be fair it doesn't sound like this is anywhere near a govt plan. Just another stupid report written by authors who are far from independent. It won't make it anywhere near govt policy. MP's might not be the sharpest knives in the drawer but they do smell a big vote loser when they see one.

LondonJax Fri 12-Jul-13 09:05:57

I emailed the education department back in February when these consultants (who run a chain of upmarket fast food restaurants - call me cynical but you have to wonder if they'll sneak in with a healthy eating ready meal range for schools eventually...) first came into the news with the idea of a ban on packed lunch. I have a reply that says they are not planning a ban in any way, shape or form. I'm keeping the email and it'll come back to haunt them if they try it.

I have a friend whose child is autistic. He has to have a packed lunch because he can't cope with a changing menu - even going on holiday is hard for him as he's surrounded by strange things so making a choice each day is very difficult for him. This child even brings his own sandwich to a party because his sandwich has to be made a certain way. He eats the same hot meal at home every day of the week and it has to be a particularly brand. He's not picky, he has a recognised disability and many autistic children equally want the same food day in, day out. One lady who went to a workshop for the parents of autistic children told my friend that her son has had a burger every day of his life for dinner. He is now 15 years old and she's just managed to wean him off. His specialist told her not to worry about it - just feed him. If you ban a packed lunch for children like this you leave schools open to disability discrimination issues and children open to bullying as they stand out.

In our DS's case, with his heart condition, it was important for us to make sure his lunch was calorifically higher than most children would have. He didn't have sweets or cake but we'd up the amount of butter and cheese and add an extra yoghurt for example. Heart children use more calories sleeping than a child with a normal heart, for example. We also needed to know if he was eating properly. With a packed lunch, that was possible as the remains are returned. One of his symptoms of a potential issue with his condition is a diminishing appetite.

Now he's been at the school for almost two years, he and we have had taster sessions of school lunch, we understand the system for ensuring the kids eat as much of the meal as possible and the school dinner helpers know his heart condition and that he needs to eat well, he's now has a cooked school lunch. His choice and he enjoys them.

There are also people who prefer packed lunch to asking for free school lunches. My mum did that with us as the free school lunch system when I was at school was awful and really stigmatised a child. At our school now I have no idea who has free lunch - which is quite right. But it'll cost the Government a fortune to pay for free lunches for those parents who currently do a packed lunch because they can't afford the £2 plus per day.

School dinners are fab at our school, all cooked on site, loads of variety, really nice dinners with just the right sized portions. Small school too so Jan our head dinner lady knows all the kids and helps the little ones with trying new foods etc... Just wish I could afford them more often. Theres a very high up take of FSM here but we don't qualify - (though on bones of arse!) and I cant stretch to the 2.20 a day each for two kids. £22 is triple the cost of pack lunches for me.

No way would I give up packed lunches or my kid wouldn't get lunch. She's tried them and hated them. She's not fussy she just doesn't like bland, mushy shite. How can nothing be better than even junky packed lunches?

I make them as healthy as I can, water, sandwich in home made bread, I make muffins/flap jacks/cakes and freeze. She likes chicken drum sticks, hummus and stuff to dip and she eats her lunch. No more slips coming home to say she hasn't. And as she's dairy free she wouldn't get a pudding most days at school either.

littlewhitebag Fri 12-Jul-13 09:12:42

I think that in state schools, if they want all kids to have a cooked lunch, then they should be paid for by the state. This is what happens in Finland and all the children and teachers eat together. However, i know this is very unlikely to happen.

Nanny0gg Fri 12-Jul-13 09:13:56

I think on certain matters the govt needs to mind its own business. If parents (for whatever reason) want their children to have a packed lunch, then that's what should happen.

Or will they start policing breakfast and dinner too?

Chocotrekkie Fri 12-Jul-13 09:19:51

Last time I let mine have a hot school dinner my 8 year old had 3 huge slices of pizza, 3 helpings of fried roast potato things, 2 slice of bread (it was brown. = healthy!) 2 portions of apple crumble & custard and then extra custard. Oh and god knows how much orange juice.
Every time she finished they asked her if she wanted more.
What size would she be if she had that every day (and yes she was looking for dinner when she came home "starving")

Her sister had half of 1 slice of brown bread (no crusts) and half a cup of of pink milk (she didn't eat the rest). No-one bothered.

I only knew because I am a governor and was doing a "health & safety at lunchtime" visit as their had been a few issues.

They take packed lunches now - I don't want to pay £20 a week when I can do a decent, well balanced lunch for half of that.

I have been told its now a lot better - still need to go and see for myself.

soverylucky Fri 12-Jul-13 09:21:45

They are not going to stop obesity by making kids have a school dinner. They can still have a can of pop and a greggs sausage roll on the way to school, a pack of crisps and a chocolate bar on the way home and then macdonalds for tea. At weekends, half term, holidays they will be eating what they want. They will still be fat even if they are eating a nice healthy lunch five days a week.

If the school want to pay for my two to have a school dinner then I will let them have a school dinner. I can not afford them at the moment and don't actually think that they are good value for money - £2.10 for a jacket potato with cheese!

BringBackBod Fri 12-Jul-13 09:25:26

I can't see this ever happening. The reason so many children have packed lunches is because parents simply can't afford the cost of school dinners.
They would have to be significantly cheaper or the criteria for free school meals made more generous for this to work.

AuntieStella Fri 12-Jul-13 09:27:40

The BBC report is plain wrong.

A report is being published today.

The Governement hasn't yet adopted it or any of its recommendations.

To say they are already "urging" HTs to ban something about which no ban is yet under consideration is dreadful reporting.

Even The Guardian didn't go as far as that!

That's a food point sovery plus children who weren't currently overweighted start to have that change when the kids who don't eat the school meal start eating a ton more at tea and increases snacks as they were hungry from no lunch

Good point

geeandfeesmum Fri 12-Jul-13 09:28:39

Am I the only one who wonders what the hell it has to do with the school or the government what I feed my children? They are my children. They eat a sufficient diet of my choosing. They take packed lunches because they didn't eat when they had school lunches. I put in food of my choosing. It is healthy food, not that that is any of the schools or governments business.

I am sick of the nanny state telling me that they have a right to parent my children!!

LuisSuarezTeeth Fri 12-Jul-13 09:33:14

As others have said, the report was done by the founders of Leon, the restaurant chain. It's hardly independent is it?

My DC have a sandwich, fruit, raw veg, crisps or crackers and a small biscuit every day. Yes, biscuit and crisps daily. They eat for Britain. They are like whippets and they have plenty of fresh food all cooked from scratch. So shoot me!

The government need to keep their hands of packed lunches IMO

MrButtercat Fri 12-Jul-13 09:35:45

Posted on the other thread and what echt said.

fluffyraggies Fri 12-Jul-13 09:36:29

Niceguy - the reasons [for obesity] are more complex than a shit packed lunch. I bet if you looked into those kids who are very overweight then you'd find a home life where crap/cheap preprepared food or takeaways feature very highly along with copious amounts of sugary/fizzy drinks. Also combined with a lack of exercise. None of which a ban on packed lunches would address.

Exactly this. You can be over weight and, nutritionally speaking, in fact be starving to death at the same time. Forcing the whole school to eat preprepared meals will IMO drive down the nutritional content of the average school child. The obese ones will remain obese.

IME the majority of packed lunches being sent in are ok actually. Many superb! Lots of schools have successfully banned crisps and chocolate from packed lunches, which has raised the quality of the average pack up.

And anyway - why should the majority be controlled/punished because of the actions of a minority.

I'm sure it won't happen.

None of the schools in our town have their own kitchens - I doubt most have enough space for everyone to sit down and eat. School dinners are brought in each morning from more than an hour away and reheated!

Because of this you have to choose the food in advance and it's difficult for them to make allowances for allergies etc (they can tell you which days will be safe for your child, but not make every day suitable for every child - they won't be prepped in entirely free from environments either, so not safe for some kids full stop)

They are also too expensive for us. DD will be having a packed lunch - mostly that means wholemeal bread and ham, fruit and salad, a drink and one extra proteiny thing eg boiled egg, homemade scone etc I discussed this with her dietician yesterday (she is under one due to severe food intolerance) who said DD had a very healthy diet!

So do I think DD would be better off having school dinners? No.

soverylucky Fri 12-Jul-13 09:38:50

Yes fluffy My dd's school has banned crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks. Cakes are also banned but I ignore this sometimes because the school dinners have sponge and custard on the menu.

fluffyraggies Fri 12-Jul-13 09:40:26

- nutritional content of the average school child 's daily food grin not nutritional content of the child!

birdynumnums Fri 12-Jul-13 09:41:28

No way can they do this. I think most of the children in my son's school who have school dinners get them for free. The menu looks lovely but I couldn't afford it with 2 children.

I do sometimes send crisps, apple pie, jammy dodgers - I don't think they are devil food as long as healthy food is packed alongside them. The school dinners kids get puddings so why can't the children having packed lunches have a treat too.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Fri 12-Jul-13 09:42:36

Yanbu. NO WAY will I let my children eat the shit that passes for school dinners. He is on a loser with this one. There will be a revolt.

MrButtercat Fri 12-Jul-13 09:43:28

Hmm author is saying on BBC they're not asking for a ban.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 12-Jul-13 09:44:38

I just don't get this about school lunches being healthier confused

When we were primary age, my mum made us packed lunches almost every day. We would typically have a mini-flask with some hot soup in, half a sandwich on brown bread, some grapes/ satsuma, and some crackers or a granola bar or similar.

The school cooked lunches were always unidentifiable lumps of grey meat swimming in 'gravy' or carbs smothered in yellowish cheese, with flavoured milk or tinned juice on the side and wilting tinned fruit for dessert.

Grim, grim, grim. My mum didn't let us eat school lunches until we were in secondary as she considered them to be so unhealthy!

Mouseymouseface Fri 12-Jul-13 09:45:16

What about kids with food allergies?
dd is allergic to eggs, milk and nuts. We (school, dd, dh and me) all feel much happier with her taking a pack-up.

XBenedict Fri 12-Jul-13 09:45:19

Our school will have to introduce some radical changes if they are to try and encourage the children/parents to opt for school dinners. At the moment they are truly awful! I'm not saying my DCs packed lunches are always the healthiest but they are a lot healthier, substantial and enticing than what's currently on offer at school.

fluffyraggies Fri 12-Jul-13 09:48:30

I would agree with you birdy - however i have seen first hand more than one example of a child being sent to school with JUST a packet of crisps and a bar of chocolate day after day.

I can see the sense of banning these two things for consumption at school, as it makes it easier to address the issue with the parents who continually send their kids in with little else.

I agree it IS a bit of a mixed message to give pudding to those having school dinner while at the same time in the same building banning c + c from pack ups. .... But those children with parents able/willing to give a healthy pack up will, after all, still be able to give a treat at home time.

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.

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.

LackaDAISYcal Fri 12-Jul-13 10:44:43

Stuff like this really gets my goat. If I want to send my child in with a small kitkat or similar alongside their very healthy sandwich, veg pot, fruit and either babybel or yogurt, then I bloody well will. and if I am forced to make my children have the overprocessed shit that they call a "healthy" school meal (coincidentally ALWAYS served with a pudding; why can school dinners include a pudding but packed lunches can't?) then I will refuse to send my child to school or take them home every day or insist that I am allowed to come into school at lunchtimne to ensure that they are eating something that I approve of. As parents, my DH and I (and only us), decide what our children do or don't eat, not some bureaucrat who has looked at a few figures and decided parents can't possibly know what is best for their own fecking children angryangryangry

and when are the govt going to realise that the obesity crisis is related to the over-consumption of processed and ready meals and the low-fat/high sugar crap that fills our supermarket shelves.

and forcing children to eat something they don't like/want will, imo, only encourage them to head straight for the corner shop to fill up with crap on the way home.

Willemdefoeismine Fri 12-Jul-13 10:48:57

A further erosion of our right to parent as we see fit - if it goes ahead...

Strix Fri 12-Jul-13 10:49:31

I have yet to see a nutritious school dinner in a state school.

This idea that packed lunches should be banned because school dinners are more nutritious just plain ludicrous.

Remove the following from the menu and I may change my opinion:
crappy white bread (on most days)
nutrasweet and other artificial sweetners
processed meat (small amounts okay)

I would rather pay £3.50 per day for good wholesome fresh food.

Those of you who can pack a lunch for less., please tell me what you put in it.

I work in school at lunchtime and dd always takes a packed lunch. Oddly so do all the other staff members kids.

Dd has a mahoosive breakfast and dinner in the evening with us so she doesn`t want or need a big lunch, just a sandwich and a piece of fruit.

School dinners are not healthy. They are often packed with double carbs, pizza and chips, garlic bread and pasta. The puddings are mostly lumps of
sponge cake with custard, chocolate or jam.

We don`t even do puddings at home.

The packed lunches are much healthier.

nosila12 Fri 12-Jul-13 10:54:49

Typical menu at our state school:

Fish fingers and chips - shortbread
Meatballs - angel delight
Pizza - sponge and custard
Quiche - flapjack
Lasagne and garlic bread - trifle

I don't think any of it is more healthy than a brown bread sandwich with fruit and a yoghurt.

Chocolate and peanut butter are not allowed. But yes I guess some will pack an unhealthy lunch. Is white bread and ham any worse than cheese and ham pizza? Maybe they could just ban crisps along with the chocolate.

geeandfeesmum Fri 12-Jul-13 10:55:10

When Jamie Oliver did the "Jamie's School Dinners", he bleated on and on about how the things he was cooking were healthy etc. However, I saw the amount of salt he put in the food and it was beyond ridiculous.

I am actually quite a fan of Jamie Oliver and love his "30 Minute Meals" but if he can go into a school and try to show them what is healthy only to put in a heart stopping amount of salt then what chance do the contractors who will be offered this job at the lowest price have?

If I want to give my children crisps or chocolate in their packed lunch, I will. When eaten in moderation, everything is part of a healthy diet. Banning items and forcing people to eat certain foods will only encourage bad habits in the future.

These are MY children and their food is MINE and THEIR choices!! Not the government!! Not the school!!

amateurma Fri 12-Jul-13 10:55:46

This has made me fume too! Like Echt, above, its completely unethical that 'The report recommending the banning of packed lunches was commissioned by Leon, a food company'. My DS is just finishing his first year at school. He is a bit picky and really not keen on food being 'mixed together'. There's no way he'd eat most of the options on his school menu. We're all vegetarian and the majority of veggie options are, as mentioned above, cheese/ carb based - 'cheese whirl and roast potatoes (?)'; 'pizza and herby potatoes'. 'Jacket wedges' oven based chips and potato waffles' feature on the menu each week - and this is supposed to be a 'healthy' meal provider! At least if I send him with a packed lunch, I'm have some control (I do discuss contents with him) and I get to see how much he has or hasn't eaten, so I can adjust the amount to ensure food isn't being wasted and that he's eaten something - you don't get this feedback with school meals. I remember occasions I had to stay for school lunches at primary school (we lived nearby and my mum used to take me home) and being forced to eat things I hated. Not a good memory and one I do not intend to inflict on my child.

Ah yes strix, the ubiquitous piece of crappy white bread every day. That makes triple carbs at least 3 times a week.

Jan49, You've just described almost exactly what I put in my DS's lunchbox! Sometimes he eats all of it, sometimes he eats whatever is left on the way home from school. I don't expect him to eat all of it, but it's nice for him to have a choice and to have the food there if he's especially hungry.

It annoys me that they want to dictate what children eat for lunch. Mine may not have the healthiest packed lunch, but at home he eats tons of fruit and veg. Overall, his diet is healthy and balanced. So how can they judge ONE meal when they don't know what the kids eat the rest of the time?

This has really annoyed me for some reason. I'm usually either 'meh' or slightly irritated about stupid ideas and decisions, but this has really got my goat.

LackaDAISYcal Fri 12-Jul-13 10:57:48

and now I am a bit calmer; the answer is surely the school having a healthy lunch policy. Our foundation unit don't allow biscuits or chocolate or juice in any form (though they haven't cottoned on that DS's bottle of "water" is actually very dilute lemon squash and his "allowed" cereal bar has chocolate chips in) in an attempt to educate people from the get go and in key stage 1 and 2 they are discouraged from bringing in fizz and crisps.

I realise that they are trying to stop the people who send their kids in with crisps chocolate and fizzy drinks every single day, but surely the way to deal with that is by talking to those parents directly rather than blanket banning the majority of healthy packed lunches. and they haven't even considered the idea that the parents may buckle and send in the healthy meal or take the packed lunches, but will allow their children free access to the crap once they are home, or even before that...remember the Gateshead mums passing chips through the school railings?

Yet another ill thought out government knee jerk reaction...I think perhaps they have been watching too much "The Thick of It" and think that that is actually how they are meant to operate hmm. The sooner this lot are gone the better.

maxybrown Fri 12-Jul-13 10:58:01

Eyes my DS is the same. He takes the minimal amount of food he can get away with, he doesn't care about food in that way he has no passion for it, it is a huge stress for him and doesn't like foods to touch. He too would sit and stare and not eat or melt down

However, they couldn't ban them completely too many issues - religion, special needs, allergies, cost not just to the parents (I spend about £3/£4 a WEEK on DS packed lunch - compared to the £10 it would cost for school dinners) but also to the schools that would need bigger kitchens/dining rooms built as someone mentioned earlier the school they work in isn't big enough to house them all in that way. It would also take longer to get them all through.

Tiggles Fri 12-Jul-13 10:58:59

My packed lunches probably aren't 100% healthy, but my autistic children eat them.
It costs £10.50 a week for a school dinner.
For one child I buy
1*cucumber 80p
1*packet tomatoes £1
1* packet radishes 60p
5* apple/orange £1
1/2 loaf of bread 60p
butter and marmite 10p
1*packet mini scotch egg bites 80p
if on offer 6*kiplings cakes £1 otherwise second piece of fruit £1
total for week £5.30
If I wanted to have a healthier option e.g. nice ham I think I could manage that in the remaining £5... unfortunately they won't eat ham, cheese etc. in a sandwich

maxybrown Fri 12-Jul-13 11:00:33

oh meant to add he is most probably on the spectruma waiting diagnosis grin

Cappster Fri 12-Jul-13 11:02:00

lol lol lol at "gourmet fillings and unusual breads". Is chorizo and ciabatta healthier than ham on white?

Of course not. Throwing money at something doesn't make it healthy.

My dds have a packed lunch four days a week. They have fruit, a small sandwich or pasta salad, cherry tomatoes, a couple of bits of mangetout or carrot sticks, and a little frozen yogurt which defrosts during the morning.

On Fridays, when they have school dinners, they invariably come home having had pizza or fish fingers. hmm

anklebitersmum Fri 12-Jul-13 11:03:19

Well mine are taking a packed lunch and eating homemade food. Thermos pots of lunch and it's made by me. From scratch. Sandwiches or cobs are the rarity rather than the rule. Soups, curries, hotpot, sausage casserole, pasta bolognaise, lasagne the list goes on.

Why on earth would I pay £9+ a day for processed drivel that I wouldn't serve at home? (4 biters)

I wouldn't and more to the point I won't.

Strix - my DD is under a dietician due to severe intolerance, I was discussing with her what DD would eat at school when she starts in September, and was clear that a sandwich/fruit/drink/small treat lunch in the context of a healthy diet the rest of the day was good and healthy. (it's also cheap easy and likely to be eaten)

I would disagree strongly with anyone who argued it isn't healthy enough.

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 11:14:41

Our school does lovely food, cooked on site by the staff.
But at £1.90 per meal many families simply can't afford it.
The school has a very flexible system (just turn up on the day and book your lunch), so parents could use it occasionally for days when they have an after school activity, or the parents know they are going to be working late etc. Unfortunately, I don't think the school makes to most of selling the flexibility to parents - many parents still think it is an all or nothing option booked days/weeks in advance.

Even if there was only a couple of children extra having lunch each day (and it needn't be the same children every day IYSWIM) it would make a huge difference to the sustainability of high quality school meals.

Beechview Fri 12-Jul-13 11:15:34

I've got thermos hot food containers which cost about £16. I know its a bit pricey but worth it for soups, pasta or leftovers which works out very cheap.
Homemade bread rolls with cheese and salad or leftover chicken and mayo
Homemade biscuits or cupcakes (often the kids want to make them)
Add some fruit, cubes of cheese, yoghurt, crackers (whatevers on offer)
I've also used recipes from here for mini quiches which are always loved.
I'm not sure of the cost but its definitely less than £3.50 per lunch.

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 11:18:08

I'm completely opposed to banning school lunches; however the brilliant packed lunches which some posters here give their kids are definitely not the norm, at least at the (highly rated, affluent area) school I work at.

My main concern is that schools are most definitely NOT in a position to educate parents on healthy eating - I observed a lesson in which the kids were basically sent home with the message that 'pasta is the healthiest thing you can eat, healthier than veg, because it's at the bottom of the food pyramid'

Tbh if Leon were providing all school meals they probably would provide something tasty and healthy - well, if it was anything like the food they serve at their shops - but are they also going to subsidise it?!

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 11:19:03

sorry banning packed lunches!

Lazza03 Fri 12-Jul-13 11:26:51

I am outraged at the prospect of schools banning packed lunches. My daughter's school provides lunches from an outside caterer which I'm sure are adequate but they are not of a standard that I would feed my children. I give my children packed lunches for two reasons: Firstly my daughter is allergic to nuts and the only time she ever had a reaction was when eating food provided by someone else.

Secondly I give my children healthy, nutritious food. I try to ensure it is organic when possible. I give them food I know they will eat (I always used to leave my school dinners so was starving by home time. My poor mother was accused by the doctor of not feeding me enough as I didn't put on any weight. Only then did she realise I wouldn't eat school dinners and started doing packed lunches.)

I don't always give the kids sandwiches, I make cous cous, pasta, soup, bean salads. I only rarely give them crisps for a treat and they are usually Organix corn crisps with no added salt. I never give them chocolate. They do sometimes have home made cakes otherwise they have cereal bars.
My children ALWAYS have a home-cooked meal in the evening. How dare anyone tell me I have to give my children inferior food just because some other parents are irresponsible.
I am fuming.

Lazza03 Fri 12-Jul-13 11:29:06

Why doesn't the government publish a cookery book of lunchbox suggestions from Jamie Oliver? Things that are quick to make and are a change from sandwiches instead of dictating to us that our kids should eat school meals.

anklebitersmum Fri 12-Jul-13 11:32:18

As I said, mine have homemade food for school lunch. They also have a good breakfast and a healthy home cooked (from scratch with ingredients shock ) dinner.

If I want to send a sandwich, packet of crisps, a piece of fruit and a thermos of squash from time to time then that is entirely my business and doesn't constitute unhealthy when seen in conjunction with the rest of the days food.

As the government say however, breakfast, then a processed school dinner and then potentially a 'dinner ding' or 'plop a jar in a pan' tea is clearly going to solve the obesity crisis confused

I don't understand how they can be deemed "healthy" processed food and cheap reformed meat is not healthy. And cakey puddings every day???? Yeah they may be low fat or low salt/sugar etc but I'd rather give my children a nice "full fat" pudding once or twice a week and have them really enjoy it, than put up with mediocre flavourless sponge in lumpy custard. And having that every days and that I can't give them treat puddings at a weekend. Food should be enjoyable.

Cappster Fri 12-Jul-13 11:35:06

"If I want to send a sandwich, packet of crisps, a piece of fruit and a thermos of squash from time to time then that is entirely my business"

It is indeed. And when did sandwiches become the parenting equivalent of Froot Shoots and crack cocaine?

emuloc Fri 12-Jul-13 11:36:21

Anklebiter Well said. I have no intention of paying for it either. I do not have the funds for both dds to have hot dinners. They get a good dinner at home.

Crowler Fri 12-Jul-13 11:37:27

My only thoughts on this are that the packed lunches have to be very bleak indeed to inspire this sort of proposal, because they serve the most outrageous crap at my kids' school.

Was this study truly carried out by a company having a vested interest in school lunches?

Beechview Fri 12-Jul-13 11:45:00

There are loads of ideas on various sites. Including this one fron nhs (not great)

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 11:46:29

Gourmet fillings, I meant foods rich in good fats such as oily fish, avocado, smoked salmon. Bread that isn't sliced white. I can see I am in a tiny minority on here, but I actually think that healthy well cooked free school lunches could serve the same purpose as school uniform , namely disguising socioeconomic differences. I am not saying that a packed lunch can't be healthier than a school meal. But if all dcs had the same (healthy) lunch it would go a very small way towards helping those from the most disadvantaged background have a level playing field.

Rishi79 Fri 12-Jul-13 11:46:32

was writing up something about being a guilty mum for NOT giving Packed lunch for my daughter few times a week or few times a month may be. Banning the Packed lunch is definitely not right! Are they Going to make school meals free then? Come on! One of the statements I have on my blog entry was " my daughter seem to complain about the limited quantity in school meal that is not filling her at all most of the days - lucky mum to have a good eater and never been fussy for eating"

anklebitersmum Fri 12-Jul-13 11:47:18

grin Cappster

Crowler Fri 12-Jul-13 11:47:41

I suppose a sandwich can be very good; equally, it can be very bad.

BadRoly Fri 12-Jul-13 11:52:58

I had the joy of a school dinner 2 weeks ago as part of dc4's introduction to reception class. It was not very nice.

I can probably afford the £8.80 per day it would cost me for all 4dc to have a school dinner. But not if they won't actually eat it because it is mass produced reheated shite.

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 12:03:35

wishihad I don't disagree with you in theory, but in practice, schools aren't serving healthy well cooked free school lunches, and nobody in the government is offering that as an option.

That's not really what this argument is about - it's about packed lunches v. what schools are actually serving, and at what price.

Of course if we had a Finnish/Japanese/goodness knows how many other countries school lunch provision then I'm sure many more people would be arguing in favour of school lunches for all.

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 12:07:37

Crowler for now the company doesn't have an apparent vested interest - they market themselves as high end fast food - I used to get lunch there a lot when I worked in the city, tasty but totally overpriced.

But someone has suggested upthread that in the event that packed lunches were banned, Leon might have some sort of healthy school dinner offering in the pipeline...

Crowler Fri 12-Jul-13 12:18:08

Sonotkylie Fri 12-Jul-13 12:18:23

DS (age 6) is furious at the idea! I will send him to slug it out with Gove if necessary. My money is on DS.
The other thing about packed lunches, aside from the fact that many parents are perfectly competent at feeding their families (and are getting hacked off about being told they aren't), is that you know what they had for lunch, so can make sensible decisions about what to feed them for tea, ensuring a balanced intake through the day. And eg you know whether they actually ATE the fruit, so can push it a bit harder (disguise it cleverly) later in the day if necessary.

And what happens to vegetarian/vegan children, or those with a religion that dictates storage of food and where in the kitchen it's prepared in relation to other components of the meal? I have never ever eaten in a non specialised (ie vegetarian) cafe:restaurant that has served up adequate examples of restricted ingredient meals. Rice filled green pepper anyone? Or how about a big plate of salad you can pick off the bits with the mayo on hmm

Sonotkylie Fri 12-Jul-13 12:21:05

In truth I also suspect this was a headline grabbing oer the top statement to ensure the report got plenty of coverage.
If packed lunch is banned I shall take DS home for his sandwich, which is what my mother did when I was at primary. (I know lots of people can't - that's just me).

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 12:21:38

FWIW my dcs school lunches are on average better quality than what I would send them with and certainly better than what they would eat out of what was sent in. There is no refrigeration of pack ups at the dcs school, so I am very uncomfortable sending in unprocessed meat e.g. Ds loves chicken but I wouldnt give it to him for this reason. No forks are provided so couscous or quinoa is difficult, although they both love it. When I tried oatcakes they were smashed well before lunchtime.

Whereas with school meals it is freshly prepared, haven't been sitting about all morning, always contains a half decent source of protein some longish acting carbs and at least 3 of their 5 a day. Having said that some days are better than others, I'm not keen on the pizza and burgers (not served together obviously) but this is usually served with 2 veg, which they are made to eat and a fruit based pudding.

Aetae Fri 12-Jul-13 12:22:02

This is a terrible policy suggestion - completely biased and based on mistruths. And let's not overlook the fact that it's not the government's job to force children to eat in a certain way (that's a parental decision, food is enormously personal) - it's the government's job to provide an alternative option for a meal at school and to provide it for free for people who really cannot afford to feed their children well.

In any case, there is no WAY a mass-produced cooked lunch can be as healthy as something prepared in a home kitchen by a parent with a working knowledge of food and nutrition (on average - acknowledging that there are apparently fabulous versions of the former and junk-food filled versions of the latter).

For example: we have a restaurant at work that does very high quality mass-produced food and most of it gives me a stomach-ache. I don't know what they put in it, but the price is certainly higher than the standard school lunch cost and the subsidy is higher (ok, the quantity is greater too) but it still makes me feel sluggish and ill, which a sandwich never does (nor does my home cooked food). Shortcuts and processed crap are a necessity in high volume cooking, unless the price is very high.

I would never let my child eat a mass-produced hot school lunch; I would move heaven and earth to retain control over what my kids put in their mouths. I don't get cross about much, but this really does make me see red.

HeadFairy Fri 12-Jul-13 12:25:13

When ds was on school meals his weight dropped quite drastically because he hated them so much he refused to eat. That was despite a really good breakfast every morning and a hot meal every evening.

prettybird Fri 12-Jul-13 12:31:56

In principle school meals may or may not be more nutritious and balanced. That, however, is only if the children eat everything on their plate - assuming that they made a balanced choice in the first place hmm

...whereas at least with packed lunches, you can usually see what they did or didn't eat. Also a balanced diet is over the whole day (or even a week), not just the one meal.

Ds used to take a combination of packed lunches and school lunches. In his final years at primary school, he chose packed lunches because he didn't want to have to waste his lunch hour queuing and prefered to be outside playing. His lunch consisted of a nutella sandwich or pasta and pesto, cheese triangle/cheese string/chunk of cheese, a fruity fromage frais/yogurt, a fruit juice carton or smoothie, and some fruit (strawberries/raspberries or an apple) - so yes, no veg (which is was one of the "justifications" of the author - the difficulty of getting veg into a lunch box [hmm) - but there again, he has veg with his evening meal. Occasionally, for a treat, he would get a home made biscuit or cake or for a really big treat (eg on school trips or at Christmas), a Tunnocks or a mini Mars bar. The point is that over the piece, it was balanced - the one meal is only a snapshot of the overall diet.

Our school lunches were incredible good value at £1.15 a day, so cost wasn't a determining factor. Interestingly, the one day in the previous year when he had wanted a school meal was the day that they got frozen yoghurts.

At secondary school he has had school meals every day unless there is a sports event which means he won't be able to get there on time. The S1s are not allowed out of school at lunchtime, but from S2 they are (partly because there is not sufficient space in the eating area to accomodate them all). The queues at Subway and Gregg's are apparently horrendous. School meals are going up to £1.40 (shockgrin) from August, so I've told ds he will be given £7 a week which he can either use for school lunches or, if he takes in packed lunches occasionally (which he has to make himself) then he can save it up for whatever else he wants - which includes the occasional splurge at the local eateries. He wants to make his own baguettes "to make a less salty alternative to Subway" grin

At least being in Scotland means that these "recommendations" don't apply! wink

Rockinhippy Fri 12-Jul-13 12:33:47

I wouldn't have a problem with it - IF they could guarantee that they can properly cater for all kids with allergies & intolerance - which if my experience is anything to go by - they can't

So crap idea

Rockinhippy Fri 12-Jul-13 12:35:28

I'm also of the generation tat remembers no packed lunches, but I also remember that most kids lived close to the school & you could go out & eat if you wanted

BlackeyedSusan Fri 12-Jul-13 12:37:52

why is there an assumption that a packed lunch is aa sandwhich on white bread with cheese or ham?

some children eat wholemeal bread/pitta/wraps/pasta/rolls
some children do not eat processed meat.

lunches provided for the children have a variety of ingredients. they have had all sorts in their lunches with pasta, including a variety of beans, seeds, frruit, broccoli, cauli, tomatoes (cooked and raw) courgettes, carrots, sweetcorn, peas, brussels sprrouts, confused red onion, peppers.

they get a variety of fruit during the week so that they get lots of different trace elements.

school lunches would cost over £20 a week. that is more than half my food budget for a week. it is not going to be healthierr if we can no longer afford to eat well duing the rest of the week.

horsetowater Fri 12-Jul-13 12:38:45

The usual hastily put together assumptions about people's lifestyles masquerading as research to prove a point or get round the problem that since Jamie got involved, schools don't like the nutrition rules, children don't like the food because it's 'real' and parent don't like being told their carefully prepared delights are not that delightful.

In my day only the kids with severe food allergies had packed lunch and they sat in the corner in safety, well away from the home made crusty pie, cabbage and apple crumble and custard. The liver and bacon, the lumpy mash and stringy beans, the fish pie with soggy peas, the roast beef and gravy. Ah those were the days, when there was no such thing as a vegetarian. They could do so much more now with the additions of pasta, breads and rice to the British diet.

I say yes, put an end to this food fussiness and give them all school dinners, together with crabby dinner ladies that send you back to eat your greens.

prettybird Fri 12-Jul-13 12:38:48

We could have packed lunches when I was at school in the 60s. I can remember my slight soggy tomato sandwiches (which, BTW I liked and still like).


It is all very well saying ban pack lunches but that won't mean everybody is suddenly fed healthy food. In my day (am old) nobody had packed lunches but they did at least try and give us a balanced diet of sorts. However, not all school meals are up to scratch. Not all schools and LEA seem to have bought into the whole healthy eating thing to the same extent.

Then there are school's like DS2's where they have lovely menus, balanced yet appealing but the reality is mass produced nastiness. I know, I had to try it a couple of months ago. The problem lies in poorly trained staff and antiquated kitchens and there is an on-going project to improve school meals in DS's school where this has been looked at because uptake of school meals is only about 25%.

If you were to say no packed lunches the level of investment in recruiting and training catering staff and updating school kitchens would be massive. I can see cost alone being the factor in making sure this doesn't actually happen.

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 12:39:21

I thought the portions were kept deliberately small to encourage plate clearing and therefore vegetable consumption ( pure speculation) mine both clear their plates unless it's peas (Ds will not eat peas)

Jarca Fri 12-Jul-13 12:41:16

Are they going to ban parents to give their children sandwich as a snack?
This is goverment taking the basic right from you parents. This is communism slowly creepping in. Please do not let that happen!!

Do they want more children eat lunch in school? They should make them good and cheep (=free) for all.

melodyangel Fri 12-Jul-13 12:42:08

So they sell off playing fields and wonder why kids don't get enough exersice.

They sell off/ close/ out source the school dinner service and wonder why standards fall off a cliff.

They squeeze more children into a school, building on more of the site and reducing the outside space futher and meaning they have even less time/ space for playing and eating - Think eating lunch outside in JANUARY!!!

But Oh I know says Mr Gove lets ban packed lunches because that's the way to make things better -FFS!

Can I just say as well that of the £2 charged for a school meal, where the school makes no profit after paying for the food, the staff and the facilities, the amount actually spent on the food part is 32p. You would be very hard pressed to make anything nice for 32p imo.

horsetowater Fri 12-Jul-13 12:46:29

Regarding price, a good packed lunch, with healthy food, actually does cost quite a lot of money. 20p for a tomato, 30p for a fruit, 10p for bread, 10p for butter, 40p worth of ham, 30p for yoghurt (if you're lucky), 30p for crisps, £2-? for the 10 mins of your labour to put it together, wash up the tupperware etc etc.

A very basic healthy packed lunch will cost nearly £2 anyway.

BlackeyedSusan Fri 12-Jul-13 12:49:19

an insulated lunch bag and an ice pack. provide your own fork. and pop the oat cakes in a plastic box with a bit of kitchen roll padding wish sounds like excuses not to make the dreaded lunch! grin

Taffeta Fri 12-Jul-13 12:49:43

I don't understand why it's not OK to have a bag of crisps in a packed lunch and it is OK to have chips for school dinners. Ditto a small bag of biscuits or a biscuit in packed lunch is not OK but sponge pudding and custard is OK in school dinners.

Mine both have school dinners at the moment, but we swap and change. I will be changing again after this term as DD commented that "the jacket potatoes are disgusting Mummy, covered in cheese and butter." hmm

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 12:49:53

I think my dcs must go to a throwback school. They are encouraged to eat their veg. Pudding is served separately and both course are served on China plates with metal cutlery.

Wishihadabs Fri 12-Jul-13 12:55:12

BES maybe your dcs are more careful than mine, cutlery never made it home. They do have insulated bags but even with an ice pack there is no way I would send cooked chicken in (health and safety freak). I think you might have a point with the oatcakes tho. TBH I just give them to them as after school snack instead.

prettybird Fri 12-Jul-13 12:56:29

Healthy packed lunches don't need to cost that much if you shop at Lidl! wink

I lost all respect for Cordia (who run our school meals' service) when we were sent home a leaflet telling us what should go in to packed lunches. They told us not to include full fat cheeses and that the yoghurts etc should be low fat. Ds was at primary school. hmm

They told us never to include cakes - this was at a time they had just introduced extra "treats" like chocolate muffins that the kids could buy hmm. They said that there was no added sugar in them but that they had used apple juice instead (or something like that). Quite apart from the fact that that still metabolises ultimately as glucose, it is not a healthy message to give out to kids, if that is genuinely their aim.

Crowler Fri 12-Jul-13 12:58:29

I do think it's an invasion into competent parents' rights.

However, I can only gather that teachers are very keen to set right the inadequate lunches that children are taking to school. Quite sad. What to do.

TheMoonOnAStick Fri 12-Jul-13 12:58:51

Absurd idea obviously.

But on a more general note..doesn't the word 'banned' get used with depressing regularity?

Now the humble packed lunch is under the disapproving lens of Things That Must Be Banned (ie surrounded by legislation). I'm getting pretty sick of being told x,y,z might be 'banned'. Who's goiing to enforce all this fgs? Who would want to?confused

Can't we be left to make our own choices, even if they are rubbish ones? I would rather live in a world where a rubbish packed lunch exists than a world that bans them in case one might.

FeijoaVodkaStat Fri 12-Jul-13 13:03:47

Apart from having seen the school meals served in my DC's primary and and their inadequate provision for special dietary provisions (dairy free in our case), what really got to me about the Guardian article this morning was this bit At present, the majority of pupils – 57% – take a packed lunch or buy food outside school. Currently school meals cost £140m in school subsidies and their provision in England will only break even if average take-up rises above 50%. So yes, Mr Cameron expects my child to eat dodgy overly processed food, that won't fill him up because either he can't have half of it or removed ingredients means it is completely unappetising, just so that someone somewhere can turn a profit.

Besides which, why if pack lunches aren't allowed chocolate and sweets etc (which will not feature in my DC's lunch boxes anyway) why on earth do school lunches have a pudding included?

tedmundo Fri 12-Jul-13 13:04:13

horsetowater .. Your post made me smile!

£2.20 / day for 3 kids.

Not. A. Chance.

grumpyinthemorning Fri 12-Jul-13 13:08:17

This idea that sandwiches are unhealthy is bollocks, When I was a kid (we're talking primary school, 15ish years ago) I would have ham or chicken sandwiches on - oh the horror! - white bread. They were also packed with lettuce and cucumber and beetroot, I loved and still love salad. Sounds perfectly healthy to me (and damn tasty too - I make these for my lunch now!)

On the other, we have nightmares with DS and food. If I make sandwiches, he'll only eat the bread. He won't eat chicken unless it's covered with breadcrumbs, same with fish, and veg is a constant battle. So we've resorted to sausage rolls for lunch, and we give in to chicken nuggets or fish fingers for dinner, because I figure that he's at least getting the protein then. He loves fruit though, so we stick to that for snacks. Outwardly it doesn't look particularly healthy, but surely it's worse for him to go hungry, or scream until he's sick over a few carrots?

Haven't read the whole thread, but most of the posts seem to focus on the money issue (which I totally agree with, we can't possibly afford £2.20 per day per child when we make (healthy) packed lunches at a fraction of the cost)
But what about the fact that the rest of the family eat a cooked evening meal? I cook a meal for me, DH and our two pre-schoolers. Either the government thinks DD needs two cooked meals a day, or is expecting me to make sandwiches for her tea alongside cooking for the rest of the family - well if she can have them then, why not at school at lunch time? Ridiculous.

schooldinnervileness Fri 12-Jul-13 13:12:09

Have namechanged for this as it reveals my location and my job

I work in a school, in reception. And the school dinners are truly beyond belief. Utterly vile. I hate doing the 'dinner hall' slot.

It never ever looks good, smells good, and as for the taste, there isn't any. And portions are miniscule. The people from the school meals service say that a 2oz portion of the main protein is sufficient for a reception child. In the case of the chicken curry, its usually ONE piece of chicken about the size of my thumb. Seriously. And a load of watery, lentilly, unseasoned slop to go with.

As for the lasagne, you're lucky if you can actually find a piece of tomato in it. Browned mince, no seasoning or flavouring, topped with pasta and nasty, lumpy 'cheese' sauce. And the world's most overcooked broccoli to boot. Its not broccoli as I know it, its more reminiscent of what I fed my daughter when she was first weaning. And I've never seen any evidence of the garlic bread either.

Roast dinners are usually a portion of meat a third of the size of my hand, one potato, and a few spoons of overcooked, wilting veg.

Fish fingers, chips and beans= ONE fish finger, SIX chips and a spoonful of watery beans (that incidentally contain aspartame and saccharin). I'm not exaggerating, I counted it for myself one day.

Fresh fruit platter- thats 1 piece banana, apple and orange. 1/5th banana, 1/6th orange and 1/6th apple.

All utterly vile, not worth the £2.20 and to be avoided at all costs.

This is the menu for schools in Bristol. NOT the school I work in though.

gordyslovesheep Fri 12-Jul-13 13:12:15

what a crock - honestly Gove is a wanker

I have 3 kids at primary - dinners cost £6:30 A DAY - oh yeh I can afford that

1 kids has SEN and can't deal with anything cheese or butter related - and will melt down (no pun intended) if she thinks anyone is going to give her either - she knows she wont get them in her packed lunch (she can get so distressed she is physically sick!)

yeh okay - if this happens I will smuggle her lunch in!

schooldinnervileness Fri 12-Jul-13 13:14:03

And the amount actually spent on ingredients in my school (I asked!) 46p per child.

AngelsWithSilverWings Fri 12-Jul-13 13:21:04

What is wrong with sandwiches? I've never thought of putting anything else in a packed lunch.

Every day my kids have a wholemeal sandwich or roll with either cheese , tuna or ham, a portion of fruit and a yoghurt with a smoothie or carton of squash. My reception DD has half a sandwich or half a roll as her appetite is so small.

PrincessScrumpy Fri 12-Jul-13 13:22:05

I hate the fact that they assume we all just fed or kids crap for evening meals. I cook each night for my family - dh works and likes a hot meal and dtds have snack lunch that I just about get in them before nap so cooked in the evening - dd1 is in a schoolthat doesn't have cooked dinners. parents were recently asked if we wanted them and most said no. they would charge 2.20 each well, dd1 has a small appetite and is funny about food (already worried about getting fat at 5yo!) I like to be able to be able to see what she's eaten asthey have to keep everything in their boxes not the bin. Plus hers are healthy. Grr, stupid idea.

chocoholic05 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:23:07

When a child in my ds reception class came to school with a packed lunch which consisted of chocolate bars and crisps his lunch was confiscated and he was made to have school dinners. They then put a booklet encouraging parents to take up school dinners in everyone's book bag!

Bellbird Fri 12-Jul-13 13:24:02

My daughter's class were asked to write a persuasive letter for literacy pointing out what was so great about school dinners. She has a packed lunch, so she could only go on what she saw and by asking around her friends that do have them.

Following some very negative feedback from her friends and her observations she decided it wouldn't be right to lie. Instead she pointed out what would be good about school dinners on condition some changes were made first. Her essay won her house points!

Her main issues against were (1) the portion sizes were the same regardless of age - 11 year olds need more food than 5 year olds. (2) prison trays with sloppy presentation and hygiene - dinner ladies hair flopping into food and (3) the dining space is cramped, untidy and not purpose built and the children have to follow a very strict regime (prison-like!).
This, coupled with a really rubbish selection makes her prefer her packed lunches and when she gets home - proper home cooking (she is a natural cook, so I can't take all the credit).

Banning packed lunches at her school would be idiotic, at present. There are, however, some local secondary schools that have cracked school dinners and offer a far more attractive deal with breakfasts offered as well and freshly cooked roast dinners on site. The problem is a willingness to invest at the Primary level.

Flobbadobs Fri 12-Jul-13 13:25:25

The meals here are amazing quality and very popular but the difference is that the high school has it's own kitchen and the primary school actually has onsite facilities to provide 3 other local schools with lunches so everything is freshly made.
What annoys me is that the HT constantly sends out letters reminding parents of the acceptable packed lunches but still thinks it's fine to serve cake, pudding and custard with school lunch. Whats the difference between a packet of crisps and sponge and custard??

catgirl1976 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:31:18


Wasn't horse meat in school dinners?

Not exactly inspiring me the are top quality.

I bet a good lunchbox is nearly always better nutritionally than a grim school dinner

MrButtercat Fri 12-Jul-13 13:33:13

Yes it's the cake,biscuits,ice cream and milk shake on our menu I object too if they're not ok in packed lunches alongside the tiny portions,running out of food,over charging.

Oh and the yogs containing sweeteners.

MrButtercat Fri 12-Jul-13 13:33:54

Yes Cat and the suspect meat too.

By the time it's sat around and gone to mush you'd be better off eating the tray tbh

Talkinpeace Fri 12-Jul-13 13:36:52

Does NOT affect






so its just Gove getting another of his gold stars and a pat on the head from his mum

Bellbird Fri 12-Jul-13 13:45:27

I think we'll find that most of the posters today are either very pleased with their school for having a decent, well-run canteen with excellent quality and choice - lucky Mums(!); or that their school doesn't meet the standards that they would hope for in their child's main meal of the day.

If the schools that have invested well into their school dinner facilities decide to ban packed lunches, they may have a point*. However, there may be other schools that do rubbish dinners that then try to get on the band wagon to make more money by banning packed lunches. That would be abusing their authority and court cases could be made against them!

*Even schools that do have great food may have restrictions on eating times which prevents the children from attending lunchtime clubs. This is one of the reasons why my daughter finds school meals very restricting. Everything needs to be considered; the children have rights!

Talkinpeace Fri 12-Jul-13 13:47:05

How would they enforce it in secondary schools - where the kids do not go to a dining hall, often leave the site etc etc

5madthings Fri 12-Jul-13 13:48:36

Buying school dinner for four children would cost me £50 a week, I don't spend any where near that on pack ups and they are healthier. They also fill my boys up which the school dinners don't. Plus if they are last in the dinner queue they get whatever is leftover...pasta, potatoes and peas ...really healthy and balanced, not.

IsabelleRinging Fri 12-Jul-13 13:48:51

So what really has changed in the last 30 years since I was at primary school? Because back then every child had a school lunch (except about 3 children in the whole school who went home), my mother never questioned the merits of a pudding every day (it certainly didn't make us fat), and the children all managed to eat their lunch (mostly) without needing special excuses from their parents about how their precious DC were too fussy and would starve. Come to think of it we all managed to drink water as well and didn't pass out through dehydration without the provision of syrupy drinks for lunch. I have seen the appalling about of junk put in some children's lunch boxes, and heard the excuses about why from parents at school. The school lunches, although not perfect are a hell of a lot better than many children's packed lunch!

greenbananas Fri 12-Jul-13 13:49:33

How are they proposing to cater for different dietary requirements? Will they be serving halal and kosher meat? What will they do about children who have the sensory issues and autism mentioned up thread? Surely this is a way of excluding children who have specific requirements.

My DS will always have packed lunches, whatever the rules turn out to be. He has so many severe food allergies that it would be basically impossible for any school to cater for him safely. I would hate for him to be the only child in the school that brings food from home.

LondonJax Fri 12-Jul-13 13:57:15

As I'd emailed the dept of education (as I mentioned up thread) I've been sent the link to the website for the report. It is on the BBC website too but if you've missed it it's here ...

And, it does give head teachers a checklist which includes how to ban packed lunches completely - basically ban packed lunches for the foundation year or year 7 (depending on school type), and keep that ban in place as the children move through the years so by the end of 5 or 6 years your school no longer has packed lunches.

So I've sent a copy of the reply I got in February, stating that a national ban is not on the cards, back to them asking them to explain the difference in points of view...I won't hold my breath.

I've also told them that having the owners of Leon as the figureheads for this is doing them no favours at all. Better to have asked the school dinner cooks who are on the committee to speak up about it than those two, no matter how willing, able or fanatical they are about kids healthy eating habits. Their being involved so publicly in this report is taking the edge off something very important - the health of our kids.

5madthings Fri 12-Jul-13 14:03:24

Isabelle we had paced cues at school.

My kids are not fussy and eat anything and they only drink water at school. My meals are still more balanced and a decent portion and no they don't need custard/cake everyday and its bloody crap that if you have a school dinner you get a pudding every day yet if you have a pack up you aren't supposed to have cake etc. So homemade banana and yogurt loaf or pear cup cakes made with whole meal flour etc is notok but cake and chocolate custard is! I still give mine a small treat in their lunch, tho not everyday. But then we don't regularly eat puddings anyway tbh, they are normally something we have when we have guests round. They do get sweets is smarties, milky way or in hot weather an ice Molly etc. Not everyday just here and there. They eat a good balanced diet with everything in moderation. I only cook one meal and they eat it or leave it.

But some children have allergies or special needs it sensory issues etc.

If the school provided healthy food at a better price than I could prepare it myself I would do school dinners as making four pack ups a night is a pita, but they don't so pack ups it is.

Tiggles Fri 12-Jul-13 14:09:13

IsabelleRinging it doesn't actually bother me that a school dinner has a pudding every day. It does bother me that the government say oh "65%of packed lunches have either a pudding or a packet of crisps in them, how unhealthy they had better have school dinners" ie they had better have a pudding everyday.

gymboywalton Fri 12-Jul-13 14:09:37

i work in a school and th smell of the school lunches makes me want to retch every single day.

my children HATE school lunches and eat a very healthy packed lunch.
i am also not sure i could AFFORD school lunches evry day!!

BeCool Fri 12-Jul-13 14:11:19

I don't think Gove is going far enough.
Fuck it - just ban children!

BeCool Fri 12-Jul-13 14:11:56

<tongue in cheek>
Gove is an amazing dickhead.

geeandfeesmum Fri 12-Jul-13 14:13:00

For me it is not about the cost of school meals. I am sure DS & DD's packed lunches cost more than what they would pay for school lunches. They both have different foods in their lunches because of different dietary requirements.

It is also not about whether the school food is nice or palatable or not. Although, this is obviously important, it is not an issue at either of my children's schools.

The basic fact of the matter for me is that the government have no right to choose what I am feeding my children. They are not responsible for deciding what my children eat. We enjoy a home cooked family meal around a table every night. Always cooked completely from scratch. I see no reason for my children to have a hot meal at school as well. My DS, who is only 6, is extremely conscious of his weight. He is bang on the perfect weight but is very aware of junk food and refuses to eat certain foods because they have too much salt/sugar/fat in. I don't know where he has developed this from. I have always explained truthfully what is in our cooking. He even comments on fish not being sustainable. He did not eat much at all when he had school dinners. Some days, he eats his all/most of his packed lunch, other days he barely touches it. I know this and can compensate with our evening meal as necessary.

DD is autistic and on a dairy free diet due to bowel issues. She mainly eats fruit & vegetables with the occasional bit of bread or pasta for packed lunch.

I choose to send packed lunches so I know what they are eating and what they are leaving.

I wish the government would just butt out of parents business and get on with dealing with the real issues that are affecting this country.

OrmirianResurgam Fri 12-Jul-13 14:20:00

Couldn't afford them. My eldest 2 used to have them once a week but stopped that as they got fed up with boring choices. I'd love them to have cooked meals everyday - anything to prevent me having to make packed lunches! But it's too expensive.

Bellbird Fri 12-Jul-13 14:22:36

This may just be a ploy to drive a wedge throught the middle of society??? The people who can only just afford school dinners will be forced to pay for them, regardless of quality. The rich in private schools will always have nice food and those on benefits will get them for free.

The quality has to be sorted first! Of course, all heads would like to believe that their schools meet the standards, but in reality that just is not the case. The caterers at my daughter's school would really need to up their game in order to impress us.

I would love my three to have school dinners, but the cost of £27.75 a week, and the fact they don't differentiate portion sizes, mean i don't.

Awomansworth Fri 12-Jul-13 14:29:46

Our primary state school has very good meals, cooked on site. I get given a menu and decide which options dc will have, they are not fussy eaters, so plenty of choice. I always check with them that they have had what I requested.

I appreciate we are lucky... but if I didn't have the above options I would definitely send them with pack lunches. The thought of sent in ready meals does not appeal.

I don't agree that anyone other than the parent should decide that the option of a packed lunch is no longer available.

JakeBullet Fri 12-Jul-13 14:33:25

Oh God I'd be delighted if DS would have school dinners every day. He would even get them free due to me being on benefits. Unfortunately being autistic and fussy I have no option but to make him a daily packed lunch.
I wish Mr Gove the best of British luck in persuading DS to eat a school dinner grin

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 14:35:53

JakeBullet - have you spoken to the school about applying for FSM? The school gets extra money for every pupil eligible for FSM - even if they don't actually eat them grin. Might be worth looking in to.

Bellbird Fri 12-Jul-13 14:39:56

Awomansworth: I agree with you, because at my daughter's next school she'll have the better deal. At the moment though, my daughter's school has these ready meals you speak of.

At the Primary level, there are few schools that have the money for the facilities - which restricts lunchtime sporting activities*; the quality of food and presentation; or the nouse to realise that Juniors need more food on their plates than Infants!

*Children should not be prevented from doing sport because they have to adhere to restrictive meal times.

Mimishimi Fri 12-Jul-13 14:42:03

When I was at school, school lunches were almost invariably more unhealthy than the packed lunches my mother sent. Chips, pizzas, fried chicken, crisps , greasy overboiled peas and carrots. All the kids who ate them regularly were significantly more overweight than those of us who had lunches from home.

This has nothing to do with trying to make British kids healthier and everything to do with making sure that their mates who get the contracts to supply the meals to the schools aren't cheated out of their profits .

TabithaStephens Fri 12-Jul-13 14:44:47

Parents who give their children crap like dairlylea lunchables and whole tubes of pringles for lunch should be taken to court. It's them that are ruining it for everyone else.

shockers Fri 12-Jul-13 14:45:26

I work in primary and have seen some shocking packed lunches (the worst being, 2 sticks of Pepperami, a bag of pork scratchings and a chocolate mousse), but I have also seen many sensible packed lunches that are far healthier than the option provided by many LAs.

Should the sensible masses be affected by lazy lunch givers?

My DD (at special school) was eating a pile of orange, grated cheese with several slices of bread for her school lunch every day. She unsurprisingly became overweight. After many requests for more supervision at lunchtime were ignored, we gave her packed lunches. She slimmed back down to her normal weight within weeks.

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 14:50:44

Mimi ours were yummy, freshly cooked onsite, still extremely unhealthy though! I remember being served curry, rice and chips, there was proper pud and custard every day, plus unlimited bread and butter and unlimited salad bar (healthy until you think about the mayo heavy potato salad...)

Actually, the worst kids' lunch I've ever seen was served by a charity I volunteer for (for kids). It comprised a packet of crisps, a packet of iced gems, a tube of chewits, a fizzy drink and a lolly. I was completely shock as the volunteers had been told specifically not to bring along lunch for the kids as it would be provided.

A bit off topic, but I dread to think what's in the lunches of the kids of whoever thought that was a nutritious meal.

misskatamari Fri 12-Jul-13 14:53:26

Absolutely ridiculous! I'm a teacher and our school is classed as a "healthy school" and the lunches really are far from what I would want my child to be eating every day! Maybe they should focus on helping the parents who are sending their kids in with unhealthy packed lunches understand a bit more about healthy eating instead of banning packed lunches. I'm sure plenty of parents provide healthier options in their kids lunches than they would get if the were having school dinners! When you have seen kids going for pasta and gravy as their lunch option in your "healthy" school, you really do question the logic of this article!

Levvylife Fri 12-Jul-13 14:56:09

Vegetarian option here is woeful and I'd love to see Gove make me pay £22 per week for dry Quorn fillets.

Ocelotl Fri 12-Jul-13 15:22:43

We pay for school dinners, but they are steadily going up in price: now £80 per month for two children in primary school and £140 per month for two children in secondary. This is 4-5 times higher than it might cost to make packed lunches, and not everyone can afford that.
It's all very lovely commissioning owners of a nice, probably pricey restaurant, to do a study into school lunches. But can you really force a low-wage family or single parent to shell out extra £100+ a month on obligatory sludge "healthy vegetable curry"? Or will their children simply end up skipping meals? I could never afford school meals as a teenager. Yes, I hated sandwiches but I made them (key survival skill) and ate them - that, or go hungry.
They can't justify banning packed lunches, unless they make school meals (and schools in general) affordable. When you think that at our local, state school, one school blazer plus trousers and shirt would set you back £50 and the sports kit £70, and that a pair of new kids shoes that they'll grow out of in a term can easily cost £30-40, you begin to wonder how someone on low income - care worker, nursery nurse, teaching assitant - could pay for all that. And they want to price them out of food?

horsetowater Fri 12-Jul-13 15:28:13

I think primary school children are particularly vulnerable physically to additives in foods and completely agree that unless every parent provides top notch healthy packed lunches, they should either ban them or provide their own healthy version - so school make the sandwiches and packed lunches up and sell them at a slightly cheaper rate than the hot meal.

My guess is that's what Leon are up to - more fast food type stuff on the menu (which Leon happen to specialise in - they do a mean chicken wrap) which will enable an alternative lunch at an alternative, slightly lower price.

horsetowater Fri 12-Jul-13 15:30:31

... and Leon type lunches would take over with pre-prepared snack wraps produced off site, cheaper and everyone's happy - except Jamie of course. No need for school kitchens with on-site catering. It's a win-win-win situation surely?

Cookethenook Fri 12-Jul-13 15:35:50

Nope, no, no way would i go along with this if it was brought in in DS's school, and i'm not usually one to make a fuss.

Firstly, £2 per day is a lot of money to us. I can do a packed lunch for a fraction of the price.

But my main reason is that with DS being vegetarian, the one option he would have on the lunch menu is by no means healthier than what i would give him in his packed lunch, or at home for a main meal. It is cheese based EVERY DAY, no exaggeration there. Whilst dairy is an excellent source of protein, the people who devise the school's menu seem to not no about beans, lentils, tofu etc.

They also seem to think that a 'healthy diet' basically means a ton of fruit and veg. They don't seem to understand that a healthy diet is a balanced diet. Yes, if a child was coming in to school every day with crisps, chocolate, sweets etc and was vastly overweight, that would be cause for concern, but i have no problem with giving DS a chocolate biscuit in his lunch on a friday and will continue to do so. If i'm asked to stop, i'll kick up a stink.

Grrr, there.

awaywiththepixies Fri 12-Jul-13 15:53:57

How can they claim school dinners are the healthier option when every day they give a massive and generally unhealthy pudding? My daughters school did money saving stuff like swapping a serving of veg for Yorkshire pudding or the like.

I provide meals that always contain good protein, veggies and fruit. I might give her a square of dark chocolate occasionally.

If I were not allowed to provide her lunch I would rather home school her than feed her school dinners.

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 16:03:09

School dinner puddings are always a choice of fruit or yoghurt. Two days a week there is an additional option of some sort of treat item. No child is forced to eat cake.

BasilBabyEater Fri 12-Jul-13 16:07:57

Arf at no child is forced to eat cake.
Where is Marie-Antoinette when you need her?

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 16:27:20
hiddenhome Fri 12-Jul-13 16:32:27

The school lunches that ds2 receives aren't very healthy imo. Pizza and a baked potato hmm

We're thinking of putting him onto packed lunch in September because we're so fed up with him having the same thing day after day (their menu bears relation to reality).

ds1 had to have packed lunch because he has a severe nut allergy.

I don't want DS1 to have a school dinner because we sit down to a fresh home-cooked meal every night so I don't want him eating two main meals a day. Also, school meals are grim, I wouldn't eat them so why should my child have to. I refuse to pay for them. With a packed lunch I can put in what I want for my DS.

horsetowater Fri 12-Jul-13 16:34:27

You watch - it'll be packed lunches for school dinners mark my words, 3 years from now the kitchens will be turned into 'punishment units' where children that don't learn their fractions quickly enough will have to sit and butter the bread for the healthy alternative Leon sandwich lunches. It will be thus.

trixymalixy Fri 12-Jul-13 16:35:41

Like others my DS has multiple food allergies. The only time he has had school lunches was for the Xmas lunch. It took me weeks of phone calls to the supplier, the school, a dietitian and £20 bloody quid for a letter from the GP. Then the supposedly "safe" meal they provided he reacted to. He had to be given piriton and he had no lunch. Gove can fuck right off.

RainforestGarden Fri 12-Jul-13 16:37:28

While the BBC spoke about school lunches being healthier they showed visuals of a very fatty looking lasagne and a bowl of peas. These are sometimes foods! I'm not paying a fortune for my children to be forced to eat junk food.

Empress77 Fri 12-Jul-13 16:48:03

I would not allow my ds to go to a school that did not allow packed lunches, Id have to find another one or home school him even. It would be ridiculous to ban packed lunches. Being force fed steak and kidney pie as an 8 year old was not nice. Thinking about it perhaps thats why I have been veggie since that age, so probably did me good in the long run. I appeciate that school dinners must be healthier and, I hope, nicer than they were in my day, but no way Id risk having no back up option if my ds was being offered rubbish food, throwing it away, and I was paying for this. No packed lunches are best.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 12-Jul-13 16:57:17

LittleAbruzzen why on earth wouldn't you want a child to have 2 main meals? confused I am all for us being allowed to give our DC packed lunches but that's not a's an odd one anyway.

What if your child doesn't like the pre-prepared wrap? Or can't eat it for allergy or religious reasons.

I don't expect the school to cater for my sons' religious dietary restrictions but I do expect them to allow me to cater for them.

dangly131 Fri 12-Jul-13 17:19:36

Finally parents realise Gove is a **! Now can you see why teachers are up in arms? Unfair and draconian methods used to try and rule in education from both sides of the fence. Maybe if the teachers and the parents joined forces on this one then something could be done about this individual.

ouryve Fri 12-Jul-13 17:30:48

I find it hard to take seriously anyone who serves fish fingers with brown rice. I love fish fingers and I love brown rice, but together? confused

brettgirl2 Fri 12-Jul-13 18:24:28

I think that a lot of this 'healthy' eating stuff on this thread is adults with weight problems applying weightwatchers principles. Nothing wrong with lasagne and peas or cheese. Sandwiches are not that healthy or filling. It's not about calories or fatty is about goodness.

Perhaps all children with family incomes under 30k or something should get free school meals. Much better use of taxpayers money than the quangos that still remain.

brettgirl2 Fri 12-Jul-13 18:27:04

And the 2 Main meals thing sounds like my overweight mother in laws logic on not overeating hmm Its a snack a long as it's cold so it must be fewer calories than a cooked meal.

IvanaCake Fri 12-Jul-13 18:32:39

One of dd's friends at school has type 1 diabetes. Her TA needs to know exactly how many grams of carbohydrate she consumes in order to calculate insulin dosage. How's Gove going to cope with that? There are tens of thousands of diabetic children in schools in this country.

Floppityflop Fri 12-Jul-13 18:46:48

I thought it was recommended that Heads be allowed to ban them. Not sure of the financial ins and outs but hopefully no scope for fiddling the books there...

I do think that two main meals is too much but, as appears to have been said up thread, it depends on what's actually in the lunch box. If it's a marmite sandwich, a yoghurt and an apple (that's what I used to get virtually every day in primary!) then I can't see that causing a weight problem. Puddings every lunchtime on the other hand are more likely to.

I agree school meals aren't easy to get free. This has always been the case. My DM tells me there were times when I was entitled but then later I wouldn't have been but then i would again, and it was all too complicated! No idea what the criteria were then or whether there were just wild fluctuations in income due to overtime (remember that?).

maxybrown Fri 12-Jul-13 18:47:38

at my last TA job we covered lunch duties too, due to the extreme bad behaviour from the juniors over lunch, it was decided the troops would be sent in instead of dinner ladies grin this entitled us to a free school meal.............I can count on one hand how my times I had it and always ended up regretting it.

Most of our parents thought their child was eating a nice cooked meal and many were only given a sandwich or snack in the evening hmm


Most of them hated the school dinners, it was hard to encourage them to eat it when it looked like crap, the cakes had no sugar in, they tasted like crap same for the custard.

Many of our year sixes would be starving while our nursery kids sat their in dismay - all same sized portions of course and no seconds.

I ever got the prison style trays either - all slopped on a bit of plastic, looks awful

MiniTheMinx Fri 12-Jul-13 19:07:06

Horse meat and BSE, didn't infected and contaminated meat find its way into school dinners. Absolutely no way are my children going to eat school meals.

Report commissioned by private company, what a surprise. I can't see how they can force parents to buy these school meals when school itself is not compulsory anyway, it would be extortion, a tax basically which finds its way into the hands of their private profit seeking buddies.

DrCoconut Fri 12-Jul-13 19:20:37

I oppose this for the same reason as was mentioned earlier. DS1 has ASD and school dinners were a nightmare. He is a very difficult eater and will only eat certain things. No amount of hunger or seeing others with it will change his behaviours because ASD doesn't work like that!

DS is starting Reception in September and DD will be following him in 2014.

As far as I can tell, school dinners at our, otherwise lovely, state primary are glorified 'ready meals'. We sure as hell don't eat that crap at home and I am loathe to pay £2.40 per child so they can do this at school.

I'm sure the 'nutritional content' looks great on paper, but it fails to take into account the sheer amount of additives needed for mass produced, transported and reheated food. It also assumes that the child will eat everything on their plate, rather than full up on the carb portion.

No thank you.

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 19:34:41

NeverQuiteSure - I'd recommend going into the school and asking if they can arrange a tasting session for the new parents, with info on the food used in each recipe. They should be able to do this, even proud to. If they won't then I think you might have something to worry about.

RainforestGarden Fri 12-Jul-13 19:36:51


I've never been to weight watchers nor do I have a weight problem, but lasagne and the sugariest of vegetables possible is not a balanced meal. Don't get me wrong - a fantastic treat to have once a week or so (with a lot more vegetables on the side) but not an everyday food - even if the little one is fantastically active with sports and dance.

Salad, turkey and chicken sandwiches, real fruit juice, carrot sticks and cheese, soups, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, fruits and dried fruits - these things can go in lunch boxes and pack a lot more nutritional punch. Extra slow release carbohydrates can be added if children are very active. Happy for the little ones to eat lots of calories if they're also burning them, but want them nourished at the same time.

Furthermore, the nutritional quality of a lasagne depends on how much salt and sugar is added to tomato elements, the quality of the meat and the kind of cooking oils used - I really doubt the ready meals they'll be forcing children to eat will be the leanest meats, cold-pressed olive oil and fresh tomato or low salt passata.

It's not just a question of weight (although we all want our children to be in the healthy weight range for their age), but a question of learning healthy habits that will last a life time.

RedToothBrush Fri 12-Jul-13 19:39:17

i When I was a school, I hated sandwiches with a passion so didn't go for packed lunches as thats all I would get (this was mainly down to my mum putting butter on my sandwiches instead of margarine accidently and hated the taste, to the point that I became too anxious to eat them in case she'd done it again). I also hated 'healthy' school dinner options (though would happily eat the meals on school camp as they were actually nice).

In the end I ended up doing one of two things. Having a hot dog and chips EVERY day. Or I simply skipped lunch and kept the money myself, which my parents never knew.

These days, I'll happily have a home made lunch for work. But I still avoid sandwiches. Its only the passing of time and learning alternatives to sandwiches as an adult that have made that possible.

My points are
- educating people that lunchboxes can be a more than unhealthy or just a sandwich is the key.
- your kids may not be eating the school dinner even if you think they are
- the quality of the school dinner is important. 'Healthy' choices may not be as healthy as schools want you to believe and if they are shit quality the kid just might not eat it and would rather go hungry.

I would rather the suspect the authors of this report don't really know a lot about the way kids behave and didn't give much thought to the fussy 8 year old or the rebellious teenager.

I would like a Tory to explain how they can accuse Labour and "lefties" of running a nanny state when this sort of crap is exactly that?!

<mind boggles>

Lazza03 Fri 12-Jul-13 19:45:26

piprabbit My kid's school did do a tasting session and proudly dished up their meals to us. I would not feed that to my children, they deserve better.

louisianablue2000 Fri 12-Jul-13 20:16:32

I think what this thread really shows is how crap most school meals still are, despite Jamie Oliver. My kids have school dinners BUT they go to an academy who uses a local supplier. The food is cooked on site and uses as much locally sourced food as possible. They have photos and allergies pinned up next to where the food is served so the dinner ladies know who can have what, and because it's a local supplier they plan the menu round the kids' allergies. And we pay less than most PPs (in a school with very few free school meals). So pretty ideal really and if more schools did that I'm sure more parents would be happy having their kids have school dinners.

Anyway, even though my kids have school dinner I completely agree it would be insane to ban packed lunches/ TBH I think banning certain foodstuffs send the wrong message, better to say crisps/sweet/whatever are only allowed on day X. Or maybe that's too complicated a message. You know, that moderation is the key to a healthy diet.

portraitoftheartist Fri 12-Jul-13 20:24:35

If schools can dictate what children eat I suggest Gove gets to work on children's sleep (like Wee Willy Winkie) and insists they all walk to school. Social Services would snatch the children of smokers - oh no, not that one because the government would lose all that tax.

Well, personally I wouldn't have lasagne for lunch then a roast dinner in the evening by way of example..... A sandwich, yoghurt and banana is not the same as either of those. No wonder we have an obesity crisis.

May09Bump Fri 12-Jul-13 21:17:59

Unworkable in my opinion - especially for kids with multiple allergies / or kids that need a stable routine (autism etc).
I have had school chefs attempt to do cooked lunch's (so I'm not willing to give it a go).

Most end up doing very similar meals all the time and on one occasion a chef nearly gave him bread with two allegens in it. He thought I was over reacting when I was sent the meal plan to ask further about the bread - as he stated it was gluten free! FFS - gluten free does not mean allegen free and this contained eggs & diary. Would have potentially killed my son.

So now he is starting a new school and we are going to give cooked meals a chance again, but realistically I know I'm going to end up doing packed lunch.

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 21:22:27

On Any Qs tonight they quoted some research that found only 1% of packed lunches met the required nutritional standards for school lunches.

What? How? Would love to see the research in question!

Sparrowp Fri 12-Jul-13 21:25:09

I ate absolutely tons at school - cake at morning break, full school dinner, snack when we got home, proper dinner in the evening.

Played in the school sports teams.

I have never been overweight.

shebird Fri 12-Jul-13 21:29:02

There is no way I am giving control of what my children eat to the government or local authority. At least when i make a healthy packed lunch I know exactly what is in it and what has been eaten. The school meals at our school are mediocre and expensive and although they sound very nutritious on the menu the reality they are a far cry from home cooked food. I can not imagine that mass produced meals cooked off site and then reheated in the school kitchen are appetising or nutritious. What is so bad about a sandwich and a piece of fruit. Wouldn't it be better to enforce the no junk rule rather than turning into a dictatorship.

Mumzy Fri 12-Jul-13 21:29:34

Not sure local authority schools can ban pack lunches. This is from the citizen's advice bureau:
Meals at school:
All schools must make provision for meals in the middle of the day. This means that a school must provide free supervised facilities for pupils to eat a packed lunch and may provide school meals for all pupils. A school which decides to provide school meals for all pupils can decide how much to charge
I read it to mean that if a LA school decides to ban pack lunches it has to provide a free lunch for the children, whose parents won't pay for them.
I know of academies on changing status made all the parents sign up to a pledge that all the pupils would have school lunch and banned pack lunches and going elsewhere for lunch. Not sure how legally binding this is does your dc lose their school place if they don't partake in school lunch?

My DD would come home starving after eating everything and anything they put in front of her, my DS would come home starving after refusing to touch a school meal and I would refuse to pay for either of them to have the meal. How would they enforce this? It's unworkable.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 21:32:04

Our school dinner are not very healthy-all made off-site, and very little fresh food. I would be happier to pay for them if they were better, and BIGGER! Ds is starving after school on school dinners.

Sparrowp Fri 12-Jul-13 21:33:33

Can't imagine how they would enforce a packed lunch ban tbh.

kim147 Fri 12-Jul-13 21:34:25

DS has told me that's "way unfair" as hot dinners often get chocolate cake and custard for their pudding but the luncbox police complain abotu the occasional treat like flapjack.

He might not have used the word lunchbox police.

On a separate note, I see Gove has not mentioned why academies don't have to do this and can install profit making Coke machines in their schools.

wanderings Fri 12-Jul-13 21:35:32

This is exactly why I despair at politicians. This constantly trying to regulate ordinary peoples' lives from behind a desk in Whitehall (while being as criminally dishonest as they can get away with), while trying to fill their own agenda (contracts with catering companies, perhaps?). And often the meddlers have no experience of these institutions (i.e. state schools) themselves.

MissBetseyTrotwood Fri 12-Jul-13 21:39:47

My DCs do not eat school dinners. End of.

Both their teachers asked me to start them on a packed lunch as they wouldn't touch what was served up. So I went in to see what it was like (new HT, parent charm offensive) and TBH, it was rough.

One tiny dried out portion of spaghetti. One dollop of 'bolognese' sauce that looked like something our dog left behind. One scoop of wrinkled, wet sweet corn.

And for pudding, a floury apple.


For packed lunch every day they get pasta/wrap/sandwich from home with nice quality, fresh fruit and a yogurt. Sometimes they have a few crisps in a box. And water.

I shall continue to send them in with a packed lunch, even if it gets banned so if they eat nothing at lunchtime their teacher can use their initiative and give them something decent afterwards.

BangOn Fri 12-Jul-13 21:42:45

I think this could be a softener. I don't know if anyone noticed the government's announcement a week or so ago about plans to let academies & free schools charge fees? Getting parents used to forking out a compulsory £120 per month (for families with 3 kids at school) for crap, corporate stodge is probably being seen as a good pre-amble for introducing compulsory fees for education. I would guess.

oneandnomore Fri 12-Jul-13 21:43:12

If the government haven't been able to regulate school lunches after all these years, how on earth are they going to provide a nutritious, balanced meal which caters for childrens dietary requirements. As in diabetics, food intolerance and allergies?
Surely this is an impossible task. I certainly would not trust that my child's needs are catered for.

Sparrowp Fri 12-Jul-13 21:45:38

Sad to hear some school meals are so inadequate. They used to be quite good.

If everyone had school meals, surely that would put a lot of pressure on the school to provide better food?

MrsDeVere Fri 12-Jul-13 21:51:33

This is properly worrying me.
I will have three kids in school next year.
DS2 is stopping school dinners in the new term because it cost us £40 a month. DS3 already has packed lunch and so will DS4.
No way can we afford £120 a month on their lunches.
It would ruin us.

My DCs have always had packed lunches. DS2 only has the dinners because he transferred from mainstream to a SN school and it was a bit of a sweetener for him, just to help him. Not many kids have packed lunches at his school I think they prefer them to have the dinners.
I am expecting a bit of grief over it.

Notcontent Fri 12-Jul-13 21:56:25

The whole thing is ridiculous.
The problem has nothing to do with packed lunches per se.
The problem is that many people no longer know how to cook or even recognise fresh food. So they think a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar is a meal.
There needs to be a more fundamental shift. I think there is too much political correctness around this issue.

MrsMook Fri 12-Jul-13 21:59:55

My conspiracy theory is that if you issue enough unworkable rules to inflict on regular state schools, it will increase desire for the academies/ free schools agenda.

Funny how academies and free schools are exempt from Teacher's pay, conditions and pensions agreements, and therefor undercutting the Teacher's/ public sector unions...

Cynical? Moi?

MiniTheMinx Fri 12-Jul-13 22:10:57

Great point MrsMook.

BangOn Can I ask where you saw news about charging. I saw something about the average cost to parents of state school ed. And I agree with others about the cost of school meals, we have two dc and we could never afford 120+ a month. It would mean slightly less than half of our monthly food budget being swallowed up. My children would waste away because they wouldn't eat the school meals and we couldn't afford to compensate for that.

fancyanother Fri 12-Jul-13 22:13:07

My DS was always starving when he had school dinners, The school is massive- 3 form entry- and the kids aren't given a lot of time to eat their lunch. They have a computerised system that would tell us what he had chosen, but not what he had eaten. I can't believe that he would be hungry after eating what the computer said he had eaten, so either he has chosen the food but not had time to eat it or as some people upthread have said, the portions are so minuscule that they are not filling him up, and he is tiny. He now has packed lunch. I know what he has eaten, as the rest comes home with him. My DS's school would have to build another floor to accomodate them if all the kids had to have school dinners. There isn't enough room by a long chalk.

LilyBolero Fri 12-Jul-13 22:33:02

I am very happy for them to ban packed lunches if school meals are free for everyone. Otherwise, not.

At current rates, my children would cost £44 a week in school dinners, which is about £1800 a year. Not remotely possible.

GettingStrong Fri 12-Jul-13 22:49:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dildals Fri 12-Jul-13 22:52:00

I still take my own packed lunch in to work every day and it is always much nicer, healthier and cheaper than the option my colleagues go for! (I make my own salads, they're pretty awesome)

Barnum Fri 12-Jul-13 22:52:16

I think Mr Gove should come to my school and eat the hot lunches that parents have to pay for. They are RUBBISH and i wouldn't give most of 'em to a dog! I'm a lunchtime supervisor who also serves the meals and about 95% of the children having hot lunch throw about 80% of it away in sppite of us doing all we can to encourage them to eat. It is an infant school so kids are 4 - 7 yrs old and are too young to give their parents an adequate description of how bad the lunches are. Many are swimming in grease, undercooked or badly overcooked and the meals are produced with the strangest combination of different foods that don't often compliment each other? It is a sad fact that many parents do not get the chance to see what their child is eating in these lunches (which you do with a packed lunch a bit more). It is also the case that the lunches sound great on paper, but in reality fall very short of the mark. If given the chance to sample any "luinches" you can guarantee that those samples will never appear on the child's plate - it's all done for show - this is no fault of the school really but it is down to the caterers. We have phoned kitchens up when provided with trays of charcoal roast potatoes to serve up only to be told it would be at least 45 minutes before more could be provided (we do not have an on-site kitchen, the food is 'bussed' in). Obviously you cannot hold up a meal serving for that length of time in a school - the timetable just doesn't allow it.
Many children at our school go hungry because the meal is either unpalatable (to anyone) or they "don't like it". I don't really think that is acceptable for young children at all.

That's awful barnum they'd eat better as prisoners. Poor children.

GettingStrong Fri 12-Jul-13 22:57:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Barnum Fri 12-Jul-13 23:04:00

sadly Wheresmy this is the case with most things in education - prisons seem to come first! I'm sure the children would be better fed there and also better educated in the sense that their every required resource would no doubt be provided. At the moment in our school we don't even have enough pencils for every child never mind other things!
But just stay away from the delicious hot lunches.....

Patchouli Fri 12-Jul-13 23:11:25

My DD loves that in the summer they eat their packed lunch out on the field - simple, but such a nice thing to do with your friends on a summer's day.

greenbananas Fri 12-Jul-13 23:23:45

I read the plan (linked to up thread). In about 90 pages of report and recommendations, there is absolutely NO MENTION of any specific dietary requirements, religious, cultural or due to special needs or allergies.

Surely this is an exclusion issue?

MissBetseyTrotwood Fri 12-Jul-13 23:24:10

Sorry, the thought of Gove and a 'hot lunch' is making me feel queasy. Off to bed now with that hideous image in my mind.

Xmasbaby11 Fri 12-Jul-13 23:24:44

Terrible idea. Largely because of forcing parents to pay. And I'm pretty sure kids will find a way to sneak food into school. Are the teachers really going to search all the bags/pockets every day?

DownyEmerald Fri 12-Jul-13 23:47:54

I'm torn on this one.

Pissed off - because i do provide a healthy packed lunch - no crisps, no chocolate.

But also I know that a lot my dd's friends whose parents I would have thought were similar to me - do have, what I would call, 'treats' every day in their packed lunch.

dd does have school lunch most days- but sometimes she doesn't like any of the options...

greenbananas Sat 13-Jul-13 00:08:21

I'm torn too... anything that gets children to be more aware of healthy food has my vote, and of course i think it would be great if more schools had allotments etc. However, I think actually BANNING packed lunches is a step way too far.

My own son would suffer hugely if this was enforced (he has severe multiple food allergies and will never be able to eat school dinners). I can see the benefits for other children... but if specific dietary needs are not addressed this will be a way of stigmasing and EXCLUDING all children who have specific dietary needs. Okay, so a Muslim or Jewish child who doesn't want to eat non-halal or kosher meat could take the vegetarian option - but what if they are allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts or pulses? They will have very few options left, and their nutrition will be compromised. How about children with autism, who are very reluctant to try unfamiliar food? What about about diabetic children? And so on...

I'm nervous about this, and will be writing some letters and emails.

sleepywombat Sat 13-Jul-13 01:11:49

It'll never happen. Too expensive. Some schools don't have kitchens. Allergies to anything and everything on the rise.

I don't understand what's wrong with having a pudding every day though. I have a pudding every day. My granny used to have afternoon tea & cake every day. Cheese and other full fat dairy really important for kids too.

We don't have school dinners here at all (Australia). My neighbour sometimes sends a homemade cake/muffin in her dd's lunchbox. It gets sent home again, deemed 'unhealthy', even when it is sweetened with fruit. Yet, fruit winders, which are pure fruit juice (processed with other additives), and give kids a massive sugar high with no fats or slow release carbs etc, are perfectly fine.

I think the government needs to educate itself about healthy eating, particularly for children, who NEED lots of fat & less sugar, before it starts trying to impose its silly ideas on parents.

jennyg80 Sat 13-Jul-13 07:56:45

I have 4 children in primary school and one in secondary school and they all take a packed lunch.
£3.10 a day per child for rubbish food (and salt content is very high) is wrong. You can imagine how much that would cost me... £15.50 a day!!!!!
Their lunch boxes do have quite a lot in (only because the all eat like horses). Every one of my children are very tall and slim. Not only should people not judge what is in the lunch boxes, but maybe think if the kids do eat properly at home too!

Wishihadabs Sat 13-Jul-13 08:02:05

Can I just say. There is absolutely no reason that a diabetic child couldn't eat a school lunch. Thousands do.

Emilythornesbff Sat 13-Jul-13 08:19:59

This kind of thing really irks me.
If I am unable to send my DCs to school with a (frankly, fabulous) packed lunch made my me those school lunches had better be bloody good.

And I suspect they are not. I will be checking. <stern>

Emilythornesbff Sat 13-Jul-13 08:21:17

Agree with sleepywombat

Whothefuckfarted Sat 13-Jul-13 08:59:55

They couldn't police it. Won't happen.

Today's Independent reports that Gove is considering making school meals free for all primary pupils (starting with deprived areas).

Which answers one salient objection but not the main ones.

lljkk Sat 13-Jul-13 09:19:46

On paper school lunches look healthier than the packed lunches I make, too. Although I don't send in a pudding (crisps + biscuit are after school treat). But it's an on-paper comparison, not what the kids actually eat.

Problem is that nobody makes the kids eat the fruit and veg in the packed lunch. I worked as MSA and we tried hard to encourage but we weren't going to make the refuseniks stay back until they ate their veg & meat. It's totally impractical. Plenty of kids ate only pasta or sausages+chips+pudding with a drink of milk, the clever ones learned to sneak off without anyone checking. And forget supervising what year6+ eat, law onto themselves.

So the true net advantages of all school dinners would be somewhat lower salt and a lot lower additives (only on average).

Emilythornesbff Sat 13-Jul-13 09:37:38

I am thinking about this more than I should.
Wasn't there a news item recently about school caterers using meat that had been "condemned"?

I think there's already too much policing of packed lunches tbh. Although I do see how that has come about.
I was just remembering the Jamie Oliver programme about school meals.
On the one side: great. Sort it out. Kids need real food.
On the other. Smug. And seems to have led us to a place where you can't even have a bit of cake with your lunch.

My DH attended a major public school. Tea and cake every afternoon.

mixedmamameansbusiness Sat 13-Jul-13 09:38:41

We do packed lunch purely from a cost point of view. I also get (possibly irrationally) annoyed that when selecting a jacket potato they are not allowed beans AND cheese because they are not allowed two proteins. DS1 also eats jackets every day when he has them, which I don't min but I feel it it a bit of a waste

The bottom line is there is no way we could afford it and we will never qualify for FSM.

miemohrs Sat 13-Jul-13 10:23:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Needtostopbuyingcrap Sat 13-Jul-13 10:28:31

My children have packed lunches because of the cost and the fact that school dinners are slop.

They eat healthy and are very active. I pop in a biscuit as a treat and why shouldn't i? I'm the bloody parent.

Why should my children have a treat taken off them just because some take the mickey?

Nanny state.

Rockinhippy Sat 13-Jul-13 10:32:56

My DDs school lunch provider is now owned by a well known pest control company - lunches used to be good & they catered well for DDs intolerances as it was all natural additive free food with a decent veggie option - it went down hill from there onwards - my pack ups are FAR healthier - too much toxic crap in current school lunches & DD complains thy are not clean or well done & stuff kids dont like too - DDs biggest gripe is that they put onions on pizza & in lots of other things - she & her friends all hate onions - dont most kids ??

MadeOfStarDust Sat 13-Jul-13 11:11:01

I used to be a Mid day supervisor at my dds primary... the food the kids eat and the food that was "presented" to parents for the introductory day are different...

It is sooooo "beige".... if it is not breadcrumbed it is chicken or mince or ham - fish on a Friday - you can smell the greasy yuck from reception.. not exactly top value cod - more likely "river cobbler" from Taiwan intensive farming methods. It is all pretty flavourless - "low salt and low fat" boasts all over the menu - so low flavour too..

"Hot dogs" - most kids go for hot dog day they must make a fortune that day... are one cheap pork sausage in half a finger roll - no ketchup (too much salt and sugar) with a handful of plain pasta and some sweetcorn.

And "salad with every meal" is a joke - 2 slices of cucumber, a quarter of a tomato and a 1cm thick slice across an insipid baguette - does not a salad make......

The slops bucket (about 100 kids have hot dinners) is a 40l bin - and it is ALWAYS 3/4 full...... not much actually gets eaten - no wonder kids are hungry after school..

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 11:19:54

You are dead right Barnum.
I once helped for a day at DSs school, and asked to have a school dinner.
(which I would pay for obvs)
Well, they were very taken aback, even went to the head to ask if if was ok! Definitly not keen, and tried to discourage me.
I could see why.
Dried out fish nuggets ( or "goujons" in the description)tinned spagetti hoops and sweetcorn. Cake for afters.
oh, and all served appetisingly on a plastic tray. No plate, just slopped directly on.
supposedly, the school can't cook on site, because its too hard to meet the nutritional guidelines the government imposes.
If what I saw meets any nutritional guidelines EVER I will eat my shorts.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 13-Jul-13 11:20:26

This is a hard one. I think there are several groups of people involved

On the one hand there are many parents (perhaps mainly those who are relatively well educated and privileged) who provide a daily box of quinoa and hummus melange or guinea fowl with goji berry mayonnaise on pumpernickel bread or mango salsa with sushi. These guys understandably respond to this kind of proposed diktat by thinking "wtf? What I provide is one million times more delicious and healthy than school dinners."

However, these children are not generally the ones who need worrying about nutritionally.

Then there are those who are struggling a little bit financially and know that they can do packed lunch from lidl or aldi miles cheaper than the £2 plus per school meal. They think well, nothing wrong with school dinners, but I have 3 kids and if I give them packed lunch that is £20 per week saved.

There is probably a slight nutritional benefit to these children eating (good) school dinners but if that was made compulsory they might face increased stress because their family would be £20 per week worse off.

Lastly there are the parents who are struggling financially and really do not know how to or cannot or refuse to provide a healthy packed lunch, for whatever reason. (Very few on mumsnet, I suspect!) Some schools have a large proportion of children with parents who struggle to understand nutrition. I went on a school trip with my boys a few years ago and I was really shocked with what some children had for lunch. One child had half a jam doughnut in a dirty paper bag.sad Another had a big packet of jelly sweets and nothing else. At this time there WERE guidelines about what was acceptable in a packed lunch and neither doughnuts nor sweets were on the list, obviously, but the parents of these kids had ignored or misunderstood them or, possibly, given their 9 year olds 50p to buy a packed lunch on the way to school because they didn't have the time or energy to organise something more healthy.

These children are the ones who benefit massively from a healthy school dinners.

Practically all the policy around school dinners/policing lunch boxes is aimed at helping the last group of children but provokes outrage amongst groups 1 & 2, who quite rightly say "Ridiculous! My pack ups are healthier than school dinners!" and/or "Outragous! Are you trying to bankrupt us?"

Our local authority is choosing to provide free school meals to primary children (up to year 4, I think?) without forbidding packed lunches and I do think this is a partial solution. It means that take up of school meals is pretty much universal amongst groups 2 and 3 and even most of group 1. But children who have allergies or prefer packed lunches are free to carry on with packed lunches. I think it's a good idea.

prettybird Sat 13-Jul-13 11:23:30

I accept that it is no-one's dream job. So therefore by putting the phone down immediately and not even engaging with them means that they are not wasting time on someone with whom they have no chance of success and lets them move on more quickly to their next more gullible victim.

The only reason I engage with the Microsoft scammers is so that they are then occupied and while they are fruitlessly talking to me are not scamming someone else.

prettybird Sat 13-Jul-13 11:23:54

Oops. Wrong thread. blush

geeandfeesmum Sat 13-Jul-13 11:25:54

Even if those parents do provide what most people would describe as poor packed lunches:-

A-It is still not the governments right to dictate what people feed their children
B-Surely, it would be better to educate children and parents.

Perhaps schools could provide cooking lessons and nutritional studies to children. Perhaps the government could offer cooking lessons and nutritional studies for parents.

Education not dictation!!

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 13-Jul-13 11:38:41

Its just another way of whipping up anti-teacher hysteria.

finefatmama Sat 13-Jul-13 11:49:35

Haven't read the whole thread but my suspicious skeptical self tells me that the people of Leon are just trying to get themselves contracts to supply school dinners. Free School dinners for all primary kids will result in a huge contract with guaranteed income for someone out there as no one will keep a head count or verify the daily uptake.

on the other hand, free good food will save us some money. I disagree that teachers should police lunch boxes, teach manners and become surrogate parents in addition to the day job though.

While I agree that the government should ordinarily not have to dictate, there may be a point where intervention is required. I have seen the kids with packs of jelly sweets and red bull for lunch who unsurprisingly end up in detention fairly regularly. in those extremes, the choice of food affects behaviour required for learning and it may be ok to intervene.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 13-Jul-13 12:03:24

Also haven't read the whole thread, but completely agree with Acrylic.

I work in a school in an area of high deprivation. We have children who bring in last night's dinner in their lunchbox - and I don't mean a bit of chicken and pasta. I've personally seen cold burgers and cold chips in a lunch box, as well as one child with 6 frankfurters and nothing else. And those are not just one-offs.

I have also eaten several school dinners myself and for the most part, they are unappetising, and that's being kind.

I don't know what the answer is, or at least I do, but I don't know how the government is going to make it work when you also factor in that a huge number of school kitchens are in danger of being closed because of lack of funds.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 13-Jul-13 12:40:16

And btw, we should dispense with the phrase even Gove wouldn't.

I don't believe anything in education is out of bounds to that megalomaniac.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 13:32:11

I think the answer is to get rid of the ridiculous "guidelines".
At our school there is a kitchen, which is used to nuke the shite they buy in from a catering company.
Now, this is a really caring, good school in a good community.
Parents have regularly complained about the awful food, and have even offered to set up some kind of volunteer rota to come in and help cook proper meals.
We are surrounded by farms, we could get good meat from local sources, as well as eggs, and vegetables, probably for a decent price.
I would like to see the kitchen being used to make real meals with decent, fresh ingredients: Sausage and mash, real spag bol, cassoulet, fresh salads and proper portions for active growing kids.
And I know it could be cheaper. I know I could feed 60 kids for less than £120.
And no more goujons of this and roulades of that. My sons school menu reads like one from the Norwich motel that Alan Partridge lives in.
But we can't, because of the " nutritional guidelines", which apparently mean that children are better off eating nuked re-formed, palm oil sodden, E-number filled waste products, than actual food.

Notcontent Sat 13-Jul-13 14:13:43

Acrylic - your post is spot on. That's exactly the case.

Yes, I think a partial solution is to make school lunches free.
In my borough in London school lunches is free. So of course the take up is very high. At my dd's school most children have the school lunch. The downside is that the quality is not good - because it's provided by a large scale caterer. But it does mean that the children who would otherwise be having a packet of crisps or a jam sandwich are having something a bit better. My dd has a packed lunch (which is healthy and nice) and I would like to retain that choice.

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 16:11:53

IfNot exactly - and these are the same guidelines that found only 1% of packed lunches up to scratch.

Even though there are no doubt, very sadly, hundreds of kids going to school each day with the half a jam doughnut equivalent, I still can't get my head round this 1% figure.

It continues to baffle me that 5 peas and 1 slice of banana can be considered 2 portions of fruit and veg.

Acrylic yes. What your and NotContent's LAs are doing can't be seen as a bad thing for bracket (3) while not upsetting parents in bracket (1) or (2) - because there is certainly overlap, as seen on this thread, between parents who can't afford the school lunches and parents who are appalled by the nutrition and standard of the school lunches.

liveinazoo Sat 13-Jul-13 16:18:11

i apologise for not reading through the whole thread but this subject has me and a lot of mums at my local school champing at the bit

our school is classed as in a deprived area and I have seen the contents of some of the kids lunch boxes<one child in my dds class has 6 chocolate bars and calls that lunch> but enforcing hot meals isn't the answer

our school hasn't got a proper kitchen<how im not sure as it is a grade 2 listed building and has been a school all its life>so we go with the local authorities idea of a good lunch-food that is part cooked and frozen then reheat on site
having been in the school just after lunch the smell is vile and whilst my kids eat just about anything<except meat> dd2 was involved in a sample group before they roled out this "fantastic new lunch revolution" and declared it utterly revolting<except pudding of cake and strawberry custard>and was ravenous on return home and ate herself silly when we got in

I don't have a workable solution but if that was to occur in our school it would be a return to home dinners for a lot of kids I think<or going to friends mums who are available at lunchtime>

cloutiedumpling Sat 13-Jul-13 16:35:05

They couldn't ban packed lunches at our school. Many of the kids who have packed lunches eat outside. If they all had to sit and eat in the dining hall there wouldn't be space for everyone, even if they ate in shifts.

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 16:38:27

By the way, it's not actually Gove who'd be banning packed lunches. Apparently headteachers already have the power to do this and the report suggested that more HTs use that power, not that the government step in and enforce a widespread ban.

I'm sure in schools where there aren't fully functional kitchens/enough dining space for all kids to eat, the HTs wouldn't consider it.

cloutie what do they do if it's pissing down with rain?!

Ipp3 Sat 13-Jul-13 17:07:28

The food in our schools is shit. Same food on four week cycle. Veggie food is a Cheese and wheat combo nearly every day. A dietician told me they only look at fat, carb, protein and not vitamins or micro nutrients in the nutrition guidelines. Not good enough and certainly not healthy.

cloutiedumpling Sat 13-Jul-13 17:46:30

The older kids shelter under the eaves of the building to eat their packed lunches. The younger ones eat in the dinner hall. Strictly speaking, the older kids having packed lunches could wait until everyone else had finished in the dinner hall and eat their lunches in there. Hungry kids aren't going to wait that long to eat their lunches though and even if they did all want to eat in the dinner hall there isn't space for all of them. The council expanded the school building a few years ago but only added classrooms, not a larger dinner hall, so it isn't suitable for all the kids there.

lljkk Sat 13-Jul-13 17:58:33

Our HT daily gets her lunch from the kitchens.

Wuldric Sat 13-Jul-13 18:19:57

In an ideal world a packed lunch would be banned, I agree. Schools would serve delicious nutricious meals, free of charge, and children would sit nicely at tables, and their teachers would join them.

Unfortunately this isn't going to happen, is it? No-one is going to offer free school meals, so costs are going to go up for parents. And to cut down on costs, the meals will be poor and so on.

ivykaty44 Sat 13-Jul-13 18:24:00

How would it stand in law to force payment for a product that you didn't want? How can you force a person to pay, many wouldn't pay so what would happen would the children go without food?

What is affordable to one will not be affordable to another, free school meals at the moment are for anyone who doesn't work but no one else who might not have as high an income as someone who doesn't work

mrstigs Sat 13-Jul-13 18:48:16

I can't see the point of someone saying 'oh these parents don't know how to feed their children healthy food, so I'll do it for them 5 days a week 40 weeks of the year until they are 18. That will solve it.' What about the rest of the kids meals? What about when they leave school? The parents would still have no clue about nutrition, the child will be no healthier.
If they are worried about how we feed our kids offer parenting workshops on healthy eating and focus on packed lunches and teach kids nutrition and healthy eating so the next group of parents have it as second nature. Don't just cover the problem up by banning packed lunches.
This isn't a genuine worry, it's just those in charge trying to make an extra buck.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 13-Jul-13 18:55:36

Some councils are already providing free school meals to all primary pupils, wuldric. So not necessarily a pipe dream. Some evidence suggests it may be a more cost effective measure than some educational interventions.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 13-Jul-13 18:57:45

I disagree, mrstigs. One nutritious meal per day most days is far better than none. It might have a significant impact on health.

Some kids it may well help but how do they balance it out against the kids that it will cause to have less of a nutritious meal.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 13-Jul-13 19:18:00

Within a school meals free for all system the take up rises dramatically. But if parents really feel that their child's nutritional or other needs (allergies come to mind) mean that a packed lunch is a better option/necessary they are free to provide one.

Merguez Sat 13-Jul-13 20:31:27

surely the answer is to educate parents better about what should constitute a healthy packed lunch?

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 20:41:03

mrstigs there have been a couple of studies to show that enforcing a school meal increased educational attainment. Certainly anyone who has worked with kids will tell you anecdotally that their attention spans and behaviour are miles better after a proper meal - we particularly notice this in the morning with breakfast clubs. A school meal for some kids will be the only protein/fruit/veg all day.

Of course it would be better if parents knew about healthy eating, but, realistically, the kids coming in with half a doughnut or six chocolate bars likely don't have parents in a position of being willing or able to learn or provide something decent. Maybe there's nothing else left in the cupboard; maybe they're rushing between a night shift and a day shift...

Educating the kids is IMO the most important thing - start getting things right for the next generation now.

But the studies, I don't understand how they can tell. I mean all those kids who are bringing in jam donuts and a fruit shoot or fix chocolate bars, then yes , provided the school meal is eaten then even a crappy school meal will probably be better than a sugar filled poor quality packed lunch. So yes of course results will be positive. How though, do they explain away the kids who don't eat as a result of the meals being so poor. Or are they conducted using higher quality meals? In which case the study would be inaccurate as it doesn't explain the variables and theoretically all it shows is that kids function better having eaten a good meal. No shit Sherlock most if us would know that.

Mum2Luke Sat 13-Jul-13 21:09:10

I am a dinner lady, working in a school kitchen and I see plenty of children on dinners coming back with little or no food eaten apart from the puddings. I think parents should have the choice whether to give them packed lunches but to have certain rules on what to put in as again there is a lot of waste with the children eating the sweet stuff and leaving the savoury.

My son's school has their dinners bought in as their school has no cooking kitchen but it would cost a lot more to do packed lunches everyday. When he goes to secondary school the dinners look more like restaurant food and hopefully won't cost restaurant prices. shock

prettybird Sat 13-Jul-13 21:12:14

Why not give them a free breakfast then and ensure concentration for the whole day and not just the afternoon? hmm

That's what Glasgow did, 'cos their trials showed demonstrable results in attention span. And yes, I pay pay nearly £3,000 in council tax as I live in a Band G property in Glasgow

Talkinpeace Sat 13-Jul-13 21:31:38

DCs school uses the biometric system (that MN posters rant about) to do exactly that - the other kids at early clubs have no way of knowing how much is covered (my DCs tried to work it out) but basically, those kids in the list of social services as needing meals get a mega breakfast before most of the kids come in - so no bullying, no money, no stress - good results

sunshine401 Sat 13-Jul-13 21:36:38

It is still not the governments right to dictate what people feed their children

Maybe not but as a society we believe in children's rights. With these rights is the right to be healthy and well looked after, sending a child into school with only jelly sweets and red bull is horrid and the parents should be ashamed.
As a parent it is your job to feed your children a healthy balanced diet so that child can grow properly and be healthy. Not ensuring this is what I see as a form of neglect and I truly hope that one day this will be seen in the society as a form of neglect and action can be taken. I.E some kind of action plan to help the parents understand nutrition and maybe cookery lesson and so on.
It is not dictation at all, it is protection of one of the most vulnerable groups of our society.

prettybird Sat 13-Jul-13 21:42:38

All kids in Glasgow can get a free breakfast and go to the Breakfast Club (open from, I think, 8am - used to be 8.15). Great for working parents - but, more importantly from the teachers' perspective, helped ensure that more kids started the day with a meal.

In ds' case, it just meant he had 2 breakfasts

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 23:00:58

I agree that school dinners should be, not only decent food, but free. There have been numerous studies on nutrition and behaviour/education, and it can only benefit children, and therefore future society, if children are properly nourished.
You CANT educate some parents. If they are sending their kid to school with a bag of sweets for their dinner, there is no hope for them.
Children's welfare is the responsibility of all of us as a society, so if their parent won't feed them properly, then someone else has to.
I remember my middle school, which had a very high number of poor kids,( and kids whose mothers were prostitutes/ drug addicts/ absent you name it) stayed open for school dinner in the holidays, so that at least the children who were not getting fed got something, and some structure in the day.
That was run by a head teacher who I thought was a total dragon at the time, but who was clearly a saint.

M0naLisa Sat 13-Jul-13 23:03:54

If this is brought into play then i shall be removing my children from school meals and giving them meals at home during dinnertime at school, the last time my children had school meals, they suffered with Diarreah alot. Especially my DS1 who has bowel problems. Since he has been on Packed lunches he hasnt had Diarreah half as much. Certain foods make him ill. DS2 is also the same.
Plus on packed lunches i can take note of what they are eating.

M0naLisa Sat 13-Jul-13 23:04:23

Plus 2 children on school meals will cost us £21 per week!!

snoworneahva Sun 14-Jul-13 06:50:54

I saw what our school passes off a food and I wouldn't eat it. No one provides healthy food for their family by adhering to nutritional guidelines - who cooks like that. My dcs hated the taste of potatoes - no salt or butter because they weren't healthy - what adult would eat that. My kids refused the fruit salad because the fruit was unripe and tasteless, the chocolate mousse was chocolate coloured but doubt it contained any real chocolate, the ice cream was disgusting - how can you make disgusting ice cream. The cook burnt the chips, which seemed to be offered on a daily basis. The catering company tells parents they cook everything from scratch yet they use fish fingers and McCain oven products....the roasts look like shit, I wouldn't serve them to a dog. I'd like the cooks at the schools to focus on good flavour more than bloody fat levels.

I don't know how you can force kids to eat slops that the adults wouldn't touch. Following nutritional guidelines is all well and good but children have to eat the food to benefit from the nutritional content and when all the heart and soul of cooking has been removed who can blame them for turning up their noses.

But I have sat with my dcs classmates while they eat their packed lunches and I have been horrified by the amount of crap parents give their kids. I'd be fine with the Headteacher banning packed lunch but only if she improved school dinners significantly but then I wonder why she doesn't do that already?

TroublesomeEx Sun 14-Jul-13 10:03:28

Well my children take packed lunches and I work in a school, so I know exactly what the average school dinner consists of.

There is not a cat in hell's chance that the food they serve at school is nutritionally superior to what I send in.

I'd be furious is my children's head teachers made this decision.

threestars Sun 14-Jul-13 10:28:19

Where I live, most primary schools are tiny Victorian buildings that just do not have the space to seat the whole school for cooked dinners. Most do not have their own working kitchen, relying on nearby secondary schools to provide food that they will then heat up.
Since Building Schools for the Future was abolished, it's unlikely that these schools will have that facility any time soon.
And why else would Leon have conducted this research if they did not have a commercial interest in it? Of course they want to ban packed lunches - they need to up numbers of school dinners to make it worth their while.
DC's schools request that children aren't given rubbish and dc are aware of what they shouldn't have - if ever a 'treat' is included in their packed lunch, they will fish it out and hand it back.

snoworneahva Sun 14-Jul-13 10:52:13

It annoys me that the promotional literature that is sent out from the council showing lovely school meals served on a proper plates - beautifully presented, looking fresh and tasty.....and then you see the shit they actually give the kids served on a moulded plastic tray and wonder why so many don't want to eat school dinners?

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 14-Jul-13 14:45:57

I told my DSs (7yo and 9yo) about this. They said:

1) That's nonsense. Our packed lunches are healthy. grin

On being quizzed about stories of less healthy examples, they said:

2) Well, some people bring sweet things but they also have healthier things like fruits.


3) It would be expensive,

4) School dinner is disgusting.

And on being informed who did the report, DS1 said

5) Ha! They just want to make more money.

There you have it. It's not always that I approve of what my DC say, but this time I do.

Heide Sun 14-Jul-13 17:59:09

At the school I work in the dinners claim to be healthy and nutritionally balanced but in practice most of the children sit down to monochrome trays of carbs/fat (sausage roll, pizza, macaroni cheese etc) with an optional teaspoonful of peas or sweetcorn or a couple of bits of tomato or cucumber. I wouldn't want my child to have them every day and I'd be furious to be told I had no choice.

On the other hand many of the packed lunches I see at school are even worse (for instance: one chocolate biscuit, one cheese string, one packet of 10p crisps - nothing else.)

The free fruit given to KS1 children at morning break is often the only healthy thing they eat all day and most of them enjoy it. I wish KS2 got free fruit too - they need it.

Definitelynomore Sun 14-Jul-13 19:18:33

At the parents' evening for new reception children before my daughter started school we were lectured by the head teacher about not putting chocolate, cake etc. in our children's lunch boxes. How wonderful to see the school dinner menu for the first term and find that there was some kind of cake or biscuit (often chocolatey) as the pudding on nearly every day of the week. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. I do not trust the powers that be to feed my child healthily at lunchtime, which is a shame because the free fruit for snacks is a great step in the right direction.

kim147 Sun 14-Jul-13 19:34:46

The hypocrisy is incredible - it's the puddings that get me.

Not that school dinners with custard everyday for 7 years did me any harm. I don't think the occasional treat does harm either.

I do really worry about the messages we as teachers give out about food - we are not nutritionists and food is not healthy or unhealthy. It's way more complicated. I think we will end up giving our children real issues with food in the future.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 14-Jul-13 20:31:21

Th school dinners at my school are usually very nice. Not always, but mostly, and I do think they are nutritional if the children eat all of it. Sometimes they don't, and even though they have to have one of us check their plate before they are allowed to leave, there is only so may times we can tell them to eat more, and we can't force feed them.

At least if they aren't eating a packed lunch the parent knows about it that day, whereas we can only really tell parents if their children are consistently eating little of their school lunch. We can't tell each parent every day if their child cleared their plate or not.

The puddings are puddings, but they are always healthy puddings. The chocolate cake has beetroot in it, other cakes have pineapple, carrot, apricot etc. Having tried nearly all of them, and from speaking to the people that actually cook them, they have little or no sugar in them. And as the portions are small, I don't think that school puddings should be seen as a problem. They are certainly more nutritionally balanced than a frube and a packet of mini cookies, which many children seem to have daily.

snoworneahva Sun 14-Jul-13 20:33:34

I think school dinners really need to focus on from scratch food rather than oven chips and fish fingers - focus need to go on food that tastes good rather than spread sheets - I don't believe kids are getting fat from what they eat at school - there simply isn't enough of it.
Our school serves up reheated frozen oven chips and fish fingers and then suggests they cook every meal fresh every day using no processed meals! Low standards or what?

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Jul-13 20:57:50

where schools do not have kitchens, how on EARTH can they produce healthy fresh food for every pupil

and HUNDREDS of primary schools do not have other than food warmers

CloudsAndTrees Sun 14-Jul-13 21:01:07

Talkinpeace, at my school food is freshly cooked in the morning and kept hot while it is brought into school where we have a hot servery. It works well for us, but it's a fairly small school.

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Jul-13 21:05:10

yummy, veg cooked hours before being served hmm

My eldest dd school does lovely dinners and provides fresh fruit and vege everyday and everything is pretty healthy whereas on the other hand my dd at a different school comes home many a time saying she had pizza or chips etc, surely if that's allowed how can the gove ban packed lunches, my younger dc has packed lunch and it's healthier and cheaper than the school dinners dd2 gets!

CloudsAndTrees Sun 14-Jul-13 21:09:46

Obviously it would be better if every school had their own kitchen, I don't think the government can seriously push school dinners for all until they are prepared to pay for every school to have its own kitchen.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 14-Jul-13 21:10:23

"Packed lunches are nearly always less nutritious than a cooked meal, say the authors of the School Food Plan."


I would just like to know what research there is on this. Does anyone know?

And at £10.50 a throw a parent with more than one child on a low wage would struggle to pay for school dinners. You only get them if you are on jsa or is, but someone on mw would be very hardpushed to pay for them out of force!

They keep quoting "only 1% of packed lunches pass school dinner nutrition rules".

Two questions:

1. Says who?
2. What are those rules, given the examples described upthread that are supposed to meet them?

And the two blokes fronting it don't look like good role models for healthy eating do theygrin

Exactly where are the facts and real figures, it all seems like a load of gobble to me!

With more and more schools turning into academies anyway the gove isn't going to get control over most schools anyhow. Nearly every one in my area is now academies

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Jul-13 22:16:26

The two blokes who did the report run a company that supplies food to schools
nuff said

snoworneahva Sun 14-Jul-13 22:16:45

It's a real shame though that school dinners are so bad - my kids have a choice when the school dinners aren't up to scratch but for the kids on free school meals, who could really do with good food, they are fed to the lowest standards the schools can get aways with - as long as nutritional standards are met, who cares that the food tastes like crap.

Chandras Sun 14-Jul-13 22:25:05

Well... I have a son with multiple severe allergies, and the local school lunches provider had a very efficient service to check their season menu and indicate what Ds could and couldn't eat, which also gave us a warning on when was the day DS needed to get a packed lunch as there was nothing in the menu he could have...

We lasted 3 weeks... There were days when the school changed the day menu without warning because it suited the stuff they had in their fridges, on those days they decided it was better not to feed DS (no warning given). Then the main cook was off for a week and the dinner ladies decided to stop feeding him at all because they "didn't know what was safe" despite a big A3 printout with DS details being stuck in front of them above the serving line. Of 12 days DS was expected to eat school lunches, he was only served 4 and left starving for the end of the day.

Admittedly, the school was crap left, right and centre. But I assume that it was not the only one. Forbidding packed lunches may sound like a good idea, but from our point of view, it would lead to dangerous accidents, or further isolation, how is DS and children like him expected to feel integrated if their conditions are so easy to point at if they are the only ones carry a lunch pack.

Having said that, I agree that a lot of lunch packs I see are crap, not so much those of children whose parents are experiencing financial difficulties, but those of fussy children.

prettybird Sun 14-Jul-13 22:30:42

Haven't looked at the actual report but would be interested in its methodology.

Did they look at "written" nutrition standards for school meals or did they look at what kids actually eat when they have school dinners? hmm. I bet there is a world of difference between the two.

greenbananas Sun 14-Jul-13 22:31:20

The report says that this may be rolled out to academies as well.

I have a problem with some of the healthy food rules anyway. For example, my DS has been told that chips aren't healthy, but bananas are. He is horribly allergic to bananas, and chips are a regular part of his diet. I struggle to get enough fat into him because of his allergies. Also, chips are usually the only thing he can eat from a cafe menu. The hospital dietician says he is just fine, given his many food restrictions. I know it's good to educate all children about balancing a healthy diet, but I don't need ignorant blanket statements like the ones ds has heard stuffing up all my hard work in getting him to eat a nutritionally adequate diet.

greenbananas Sun 14-Jul-13 22:36:49

Chandras sad

I am so worried that schools will say they can cater for allergies but then fail to do it safely. I would definitely home educate rather than put DS at risk like that. And I'm worried about the social exclusion that would come from our children being the only ones to eat packed lunches. And I'm worried about children who have allergies or intolerance which have not been properly diagnosed - schools may not take their needs seriously.

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Jul-13 22:39:49

how could it be rolled out to academies?
they are private companies who do as they please

its not going to happen
time to stop stressing
its more Gove twaddle

It's obvious what would happen anyway. All the children who normally don't get lunch or get a crap lunch will do better. And while everyone congratulates themselves on a job well done all the other kids who previously ate just fine will be the ones going hungry and suffering the health problems that were deemed the reasons for the idea to begin with.

greenbananas Sun 14-Jul-13 22:44:55

Talkin peace, I'm not sure how it would work, but an fairly sure that's what the report said. Think it was almost on the last page.

You're right, it may not happen - but then again, it is already happening in some private schools. There have been a couple of incidents on the mn allergy boards, e.g. one where a bit with multiple allergies was catered for by the school for the first year or so, then the school changed catering staff and wouldn't cater for him any more so that he was expected to be the only child in the school with a packed lunch.

greenbananas Sun 14-Jul-13 22:47:12

Child, not bit. Am typing on kindle.

HamletsSister Sun 14-Jul-13 22:49:41

And baked beans are NOT a vegetable. Yes, I know they contain beans, but seriously, beans and spaghetti hoops appear on our lunches as a vegetable. Also, they get pudding / yoghurt / fruit every day and I try hard to keep sugar to a minimum.

iloverainbows Sun 14-Jul-13 22:53:13

Packed Lunches - I don't understand the UK - can parents not see that they can ensure this doesn't happen (ie the banning)? There is a massive population - parents en masse protesting against this will ensure it doesn't happen. The government can't make you pay. I wouldn't even be wasting time worrying about this.

Charging Fees - agree with other posters this will come in at some point. I also believe that charging for GP visits will also be brought in. Where I live we pay for both. Schools are given a rating based on the affluence of the area - the higher the rating the less the government gives the school for funding. The school then sets an amount that parents are requested to pay. You don't have to pay it but it is made clear that the school cannot offer extras or improve facilities without this money. We also pay for all stationery.